AP reported anti-Islam film that sparked protests was made to help Israel, but questions surround producer of the film

Israel/Palestine

Update 2:40 pm:

Jeffery Goldberg has talked with Steve Klein and Klein now says Bacile is not Israeli, probably not Jewish and his name is a pseudonym:

Klein told me that Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish, as has been reported, and that the name is, in fact, a pseudonym. He said he did not know “Bacile”‘s real name. He said Bacile contacted him because he leads anti-Islam protests outside of mosques and schools, and because, he said, he is a Vietnam veteran and an expert on uncovering al Qaeda cells in California. “After 9/11 I went out to look for terror cells in California and found them, piece of cake. Sam found out about me. The Middle East Christian and Jewish communities trust me.”

He said the man who identified himself as Bacile asked him to help make the anti-Muhammad film. When I asked him to describe Bacile, he said: “I don’t know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He’s not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones (the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor) is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he’s Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.”

I asked him who he thought Sam Bacile was. He said that there are about 15 people associated with the making of the film, “Nobody is anything but an active American citizen. They’re from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, they’re some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical.”

Update 1:45 pm:

While questions have been raised about whether Sam Bacile actually exists, Max Blumenthal profiles Steve Klein, who has also been connected to the film:

Klein is a right-wing extremist who emerged from the same axis of Islamophobia that produced Anders Behring Breivik and which takes inspiration from the writings of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Daniel Pipes.

It appears Klein (or someone who shares his name and views) is an enthusiastic commenter on Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugged, where he recently complained about Mitt Romney’s “support for a Muslim state in Israel’s Heartland.” In July 2011, Spencer’s website, Jihad Watch, promoted a rally Klein organized alongside the anti-Muslim Coptic extremist Joseph Nasrallah to demand the firing of LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, whom they painted as a dupe for Hamas.

Klein is also closely affiliated with the Christian right in California, organizing resentment against all the usual targets — Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, and even Mormons. He is a board member and founder of a group called Courageous Christians United, which promotes anti-Mormon, anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim literature (including the work of Robert Spencer) on its website. In 2002, Klein ran for the California Insurance Commissioner under the American Independent Party, an extremist fringe party linked to the militia movement, garnering a piddling 2 percent of the vote.

Klein has been closely affiliated with the Church at Kaweah, an extreme evangelical church located 70 miles southeast of Fresno that serves as a nexus of neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist, and militia movement elements. The Southern Poverty Law Center produced a report on Kaweah this spring that noted Klein’s long record of activist against Muslims

Original Post:

Yesterday, the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Three other staff members of the consulate were also killed. The attack came as protests took place in Libya and Egypt over an American-made YouTube video that mocked Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

The video was financed and posted to YouTube by Sam Bacile, a 52-year old Israeli real estate developer based in California. There are reports that Bacile has gone into hiding since yesterday’s violence. This Associated Press report says Bacile made the film because he thought it would help Israel, and that he raised the $5 million to make the film from “more than 100 Jewish donors”. Thus Islamophobia comes from Israel to the U.S.:

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing an American diplomat on Tuesday. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

“This is a political movie,” said Bacile. “The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”

Bacile, a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world.

“Islam is a cancer, period,” he said repeatedly, his solemn voice thickly accented.

The two-hour movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Bacile, who wrote and directed it.

The film claims Muhammad was a fraud. An English-language 13-minute trailer on YouTube shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons. . .

Though Bacile was apologetic about the American who was killed as a result of the outrage over his film, he blamed lax embassy security and the perpetrators of the violence.

The NY Times also uses the phrase Jewish donors in this account by Robert Mackey and Liam Stack:

The trigger for the anti-American outbursts was the amateurish, American-made video opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.

The trailer was uploaded to YouTube by Sam Bacile, whom The Wall Street Journal Web site identified as a 52-year old Israeli-American real estate developer in California. He told the Web site he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film. “Islam is a cancer,” Mr. Bacile was quoted as saying.

The video gained international attention after it was publicized in the Egyptian media and a Florida pastor began promoting it along with his own proclamation of Sept. 11 as “International Judge Muhammad Day.”

Is this the relationship America wants with the Islamic world? As Trita Parsi writes in his book, Treacherous Alliance:  

“There was a feeling in Israel that because of the end of the Cold War, relations with the U.S. were cooling and we needed some new glue for the alliance,” Efraim Inbar [now director of the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies] said. “and the new glue… was radical Islam. And Iran was radical Islam.”

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