U.S. authorities have identified the man who was behind the California-made, ardently anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims, which has incited protests throughout the Middle East.
Authorities say that 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is the filmmaker.
Nakoula is a Coptic Christian in southern California on probation after a conviction for financial crimes. He is also linked to the Sam Bacile persona initially believed to be behind the film, but turned out to be a false identity.
Federal court papers filed against him in a 2010 criminal prosecution show that he has many other aliases such as Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily, and Erwin Salameh among others. In 2010, Nakoula pleaded no contest to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also to serve 21 months in federal jail and wasn’t allowed to use computers or the web or five years without his probation officer’s approval.
In an interview with AP, Nakoula said he managed logistics for the film, and denied he was Bacile. He did, however, claim to know him.
Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Church, however, has publicly said the church doesn’t support the views shown in the film. Google Inc. has since pulled the film off YouTube in Egypt.