Federal investigators have tracked down the man who produced Innocence Of Muslims. As it turns out, he's neither Jewish or Israeli (as he told others), and he's spent time in prison for bank fraud.
A federal law enforcement official said Thursday that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was the man behind ‘‘Innocence of Muslims,’’ a film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that sparked protests earlier in the week in Egypt and Libya and now in Yemen. U.S. authorities are investigating whether the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya came during a terrorist attack. Nakoula, who talked guardedly about his role, pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Leigh Williams said Nakoula set up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers; then, checks from those accounts would be deposited into other bogus accounts from which Nakoula would withdraw money at ATM machines.The Southern Poverty Law Center has information about Steve Klein, a spokesman for Nakoula who has appeared on network television several times in the last two days.
Klein is a former Marine and longtime religious-right activist who has helped train paramilitary militias at a California church. It described Klein as founder of Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques. It quoted Klein as saying he believes that California is riddled with Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cells ‘‘who are awaiting the trigger date and will begin randomly killing as many of us as they can.’’ Klein told the AP he vowed to help make the movie but warned the filmmaker that ‘‘you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh.’’ Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam. ‘‘We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,’’ Klein said.