Man behind anti-Islam film jailed

2012-11-08 11:00

Los Angeles - The convicted California scam artist behind a crude anti-Islam film that stoked protests against the United States across the Muslim world was sent back to jail for a year on Wednesday over probation violations stemming from his role in the video.

In a tightly guarded federal courtroom in Los Angeles, Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to using aliases and lying to his probation officer, breaching the terms of his supervised release from prison this year after serving time for bank fraud.

Youssef, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian and former gasoline station owner identified in some public records by his birth name, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has been in protective custody since his arrest in September, his lawyer said.

At least one violation Youssef acknowledged involved his using the alias Sam Bacile, a name several actors and others from the film said he had used in producing the internet video. It was circulated under several titles, including Innocence of Muslims.

In addition to a year in jail, US District Judge Christina Snyder ordered Youssef placed on four years of supervised release once he got out.

The 13-minute clip attributed to Youssef, aged 55, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were duped into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called Desert Warrior.

Law suit

After the fact, actors said they learned that some of their lines spoken in the production had been dubbed over.

At least one actress has sued Youssef, claiming her image and reputation were harmed and her safety was put in jeopardy, citing a religious edict she said an Egyptian cleric had issued against anyone connected with the movie.

Assistant US Attorney Robert Dugdale said some cast members have received death threats and feared for their lives.

The film touched off a torrent of anti-American unrest in Arab and Muslim countries. The start of the violence on 11 September coincided with an attack on US diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.

US and other foreign embassies were also stormed in various cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous.

Defence lawyer Steven Seiden told reporters after Wednesday's hearing that the government was using its probation case to punish Youssef for making the film, thus chilling his client's constitutional rights to freedom of expression.


"This hearing had everything to do with the movie," he said.

Dugdale said in court that Youssef was not being prosecuted for the content of his film but because "the way he made this movie, he did defraud people", in part by operating under an assumed identity.

Youssef appeared in court in a white jumpsuit, his hands shackled to his waist. He said little, and an Arabic translator was used to communicate with him.

While in protective custody since his arrest, Youssef has remained essentially isolated and unable to see his relatives, except for brief glimpses he can catch in courtrooms, Seiden said.

The defence lawyer also told reporters his client wrote the script for the video and may have served as a "cultural consultant" on the video, but does not own rights to it.

Youssef previously was convicted of fraudulently obtaining 641 credit and debit cards and 60 bank accounts, defrauding banks of $800 000, Dugdale said.

  • thunder.clap.587 - 2012-11-08 12:16

    Islam The Fastest Growing Religion In The World,Hate it or Love it.

      tom.poe.12 - 2012-11-08 13:25

      Islam is growing in numbers both by Birth rate AND reverts.......since the tragedy of 9/11, it seems that an interest in Islam never seen before has been sparked and thus new reverts are attracted to the religion everyday. The facts and figures speak for themselves.......the number of people entering Islam far outstrips the number of people leaving Islam. In the West for example, women are reverting to Islam......and adopting the Hijaab.......

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-11-08 12:55

    Oh, so actually making a movie that promotes hatred and violence is still OK in the US as long as you don't defraud someone.

  • zain.beg.9 - 2012-11-08 13:10

    So Theodor you love muslims but you hate the religion??? So the problem that you have is worst than you think... You hate the word of God and you have rejected the Holy Prophet Mohammed SAW like you have rejected Isa/Jesus peace be upon him so i would assume you hate the chritianity religion but love the christians? The versus you quote below are in context of battles... E.g Quraan (8:12) I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip... This is in the context of a battle which was the battle of badr The qurash tribe vs the muslims... By the way the muslims were only 300 and the qurash were 1000.... The muslims asked God for help Quraan surah anfal 8-9 when you asked helpof your lord, and he answered you, Indeed, i will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another 8-10 and Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. and victory is not but from Allah.indeed, Allah is exaulted in mighty and wise 8-11 when he overwhelmed you with drowsiness giving security from him and sent down from the sky rain which to purify you and remove from you the evil suggestions of satan and to make you steadfast your hearts and plant firmly therby you feet 8-12 remeber when your lord inspired to thr angels, "I am with you so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into their hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike them upon their necks and 1

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-11-08 13:40

      Mmm, muslims are upset about a movie, a mob kills the US ambassador to Libya, a movie that was made by an Egyptian living in the US. Peace loving religion? However you look at the quran, the tree is known by it's fruit. Would you say that Islam is tolerant of other faiths in countries where they are in majority? I don't think so. What about the other 105 verses promoting violence, o it's in a battle scenario aswell, mmm allot of war won't you say?

  • zain.beg.9 - 2012-11-08 13:19

    So Theodor for me it is clear that you are trying to propogate false statements about islam? Why would you do somthing like that? Like Thunderclap says its the fastest growing religion love it or hate it.... Ask the Jewish Rabbi's who reverts to Islam why they love it

      merven.halo - 2012-11-08 13:39

      "Ask the Jewish Rabbi's who reverts to Islam why they love it" Because you can rape a child as a marriage right? Because people fear you, because your followers are bad ass bomb planters? Because ugly people still get married thank to the parents' rights to choose a husband for you? Because you can kill your disrespectful kids to restore your family's pride? Because you can burn people with acid that don't agree with your view points? Why don't you tell us?

  • zain.beg.9 - 2012-11-08 13:22

    Richars in no way does that resemmble anything from the life of the Prophrlet Mohammed SAW what have you read that makes you say that???

  • zain.beg.9 - 2012-11-08 16:19

    Merven are you suggesting this is the reason why Jewish Rabbis are reverting.. I dont think thats the reason... Any all your info is fed from the media...dont be naive

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