The Tragic Consequences of Extremism - updated 9/17
Posted Sep 14, 2012

The Tragic Consequences of Extremism

by Sheila Musaji


The LA Times reports that

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were reported killed as a mob sacked the U.S. Consulate in eastern Libya in a rage over an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States, according the State Department.

Early Wednesday morning, President Obama released a statement: “I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.”  Obama concluded his statement saying, “The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.”

Wanis al-Sharif, Libya’s deputy minister of the interior, told the Associated Press that Stevens and three others had died as the crowd torched the consulate in Benghazi hours after demonstrators scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in protest over the anti-Muslim video. A Twitter message from Libya’s deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abu Shagur, condemned the death of Stevens and the other American personnel killed in the attack.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks but said in a statement that “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” is not a justification for “violent acts of this kind.”  “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” she said. “Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

The reports being published around the world on this tragic murder, and the events leading up to it are contradictory at this time.  We know that an anti-Muslim film appears to have been the spark that set off this violence.  We know that an American Ambassador and three staffers were killed in a criminal attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya and the Embassy in Cairo was stormed and the U.S flag torn down and replaced by a flag often used by Al Qaeda.  Among the many confusing aspects to this story is that there seem to be two separate videos, the one produced by Sam Bacile, and another that has been claimed to be connected to Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian.

NOTE:  See Extremist Christians Produce Anti-Muslim Film Blame Jews for a summary of what we know about this film and its’ producers so far.  Most of the information about the film contained in this lengthy article is summarized there.

MUSLIMS CONDEMN THE ATTACKS ON EMBASSIES & MOURN LOSS OF LIFE

Muslims and Muslim organizations have condemned the actions of the extremists in Libya and Egypt.  See the collection of statements here.  They have expressed their sadness for the loss of innocent life.  There is no “appropriate” target for terrorist acts.  Attacking any diplomatic embassy is a criminal act.  The murder of the Ambassador and embassy staff was inexcusable. 

What adds yet another level of tragedy to all of this is that as Aref Nayed, Former Ambassador of Libya to the UAE, Member of the League of Libyan Ulema said in a statement:

This is to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his fallen colleagues, and to the American people and government. I had the honor of personally knowing Ambassador Stevens, and witnessed, firsthand, in Benghazi and later in Tripoli, the care and hard work that he devoted to fulfilling his duties towards his country and towards Libya and the Libyan people. He was a man of dedication and honor, and I am shocked and deeply anguished for the loss of a dear friend and supporter of the Libyan people’s struggle against tyranny. Tyranny and darkness may wear a thousand guises, including pseudo-religiosity, but must never deceive us. Islam is a religion of peace and understanding, and Islam’s Prophet (peace be upon him) is the Prophet of Compassion. It is outrageous and totally unacceptable for criminals to kill and destroy in the name of defending Islam and its Prophet (peace be upon him). The criminals who committed this cowardly act must be rigorously pursued and rapidly brought to justice. May this tragic loss make us even more dedicated and determined to building our respective countries, based on the values of dialogue, understanding, and peace.

And, as Shahed Amanullah of Generation Change posted on FaceBook:

“I am saddened by the death of Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues in Libya overnight. He (like many others I’ve met) cared deeply about serving his country as well as the people he reached out to. Take a look at this video to see what kind of a public servant he was. He was very supportive of our outreach efforts to young leaders in Libya and was preparing for a launch of our Generation Change program there next month. I last saw him at his swearing-in a few months ago - he was so excited to return to Libya (he helped the opposition during the transition) to help the country rebuild.  Video:  Introducing U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens

THE FILM THAT SPARKED SO MUCH ANGER

All of this anger, violence, sectarian hatred, and suffering was stirred up by a combination of extremist efforts.  Based on what was initially reported, it seemed that a group of extremist Jews produced and distributed a hateful film insulting Islam, Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad to further their pro-Zionist agenda. This was FALSE, it was extremist Christians  Muslim religious extremists drew attention to the film to further their own agenda.  Extremist Christians promoted the film and held a “trial of Prophet Muhammad” event to gain publicity for themselves.  Egyptian political extremists used the film to stir up the masses to promote their political agenda.  The extremist political organization Al Qaeda used the film as further proof of their propaganda effort to say that the U.S. is at war with all Muslims to gain support for their cause.  And, all of these extremists succeeded in provoking ignorant or extremist Muslims into carrying out acts of terrorism (hirabah).  Update: Al Qaeda, or one of their affiliates actually seems to have been the perpetrator of the attack on the Libyan Embassy

The only figure that I know of in the Torah, the New Testament, or the Qur’an, who would be honored by the actions of any of these extremists is Satan. 

These religious and political extremists use religion as a cover to attempt to justify actions that can only be called evil.  They want to provoke a reaction, as it feeds into their narratives, or they believe they can use the suffering of others to aid their own political cause.  All of the extremists have more in common with each other than they do with the majority of decent people of their faith.  Their actions bring disgrace on other members of the faiths they claim, and they bring nothing but more hatred, chaos, and suffering to the rest of the world.  The extremists on all sides feed off of each others hatred and continually escalate the rhetoric and the violence.  Somehow, the voices of moderation must come to the fore.

As Paul Brandeis Raushenbush said It is well known that within the Muslim world there are extremists and fanatics who can be provoked and incited by irresponsible media and self-serving religious leaders. We have seen this before. Terry Jones burns the Quran and the results were riots in Afganistan and the loss of more life.  This is not excusing the deadly response to the film—it is inexcusable. Violent reactions to any kind of art or thought, no matter how lame, are disgusting and unacceptable in decent society.  Yet creating a film such as “Innocence of Muslims” is akin to shouting fire in the movie theatre. Sam Bacile and his Islamohating cohorts appear to have created a symbiotic relationship with the violent Muslim extremists—each give the other a sense of self-righteousness and victimhood with a perfect circle of destruction. Bacile and his film are part of the problem, not the solution. His actions have put America and Americans in danger, and his film should be condemned for its bigotry and irresponsibility.

Here are key articles and passages from those articles about what is being reported to date about this entire incident in the order the events were reported:

EARLY ARTICLES

The Globe and Mail reported

The low-budget movie, “Innocence of Muslims” in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.  It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, sparking protests in Egypt and violence in Libya that left America’s ambassador Chris Stevens and three American officials dead.

The film was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile, according to the Wall Street Journal, but Egyptian media say that some Egyptian Copts living in the US were involved in the production.  On Wednesday, an Egyptian journalist filed a lawsuit against the producers of the film for “offence to Islam” and has called on authorities to strip the Egyptian Copts involved in the production of their nationality.

Mr. Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from southern California says Islam is a hateful religion.  “Islam is a cancer,” Mr. Bacile told the Wall Street Journal of his crudely-produced film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed variously sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as “the first Muslim animal.”

With amateur costumes, a choppy script and fake backdrops, the film would hardly have been noticed some say, had it not been for its promotion by US pastor Terry Jones, who drew protests in the past for burning the Koran.  Mr. Bacile told the Journal he was responsible for the film—an excerpt of which has been viewable online since July—saying he had raised $5-million to make it from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify.  He said he had worked with some 60 actors and 45 crew to make the two-hour movie in a three-month period last year in California. “The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie,” he said.

USA Today has more on Bacile  “The filmmaker is in hiding.  “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.”

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo released a statement after the Cairo demonstration and prior to the tragic events in Libya in which the Ambassador and staff members were murdered:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

  After the murder of the Ambassador a much stronger statement condemning the actions of the perpetrators was released by Hillary Clinton.

The Mercury News reported that

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, trying to score political points from an attack on American diplomatic posts, branded as “disgraceful” a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that condemned the insulting Muhammad video. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said. The embassy’s statement, issued hours before it was learned than the American ambassador to Libya had died, condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote in response to Romney’s statement: “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Gov. Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”

Andrew Brown at the Guardian wrote in detail about his viewing of the 13 minutes of clips from the film on YouTube, and then said

This is only 13 minutes. It’s hard to imagine the full two hours. The way I have told it may provoke incredulous giggles, but there is an element of intended nastiness in it that dries up laughter.  Some people will want to defend the film as critical of an idea, or of a belief. But I don’t think that will do. No Muslim could think of Muhammad as he is portrayed in the film, and very few can suppose that Islam commands them to behave the way the Muslims in the film do. The beliefs criticised are entirely imaginary. If any other group but Muslims were the target this would be obvious at once.  This film is purely and simply an incitement to religious hatred. It stokes hatred in both of its intended audiences – Christians and Jews in the US, and Muslims in the wider world. If jihadi videos are banned in this country, and their distributors prosecuted, the same should be true of this film and for the same reasons.

Max Fisher’s Atlantic article includes a link to the trailer of the film that sparked these tragic incidents.  Fisher says:

...  Obviously, there’s a lot to this story that’s still unclear. What we do know is that some members of Egypt’s sometimes-raucous, often rumor-heavy media have been playing highly offensive clips from the highly offensive film, stressing its U.S. and Coptic connections. In the clip below, controversial TV host Sheikh Khaled Abdallah (known for such statements as “Iran is more dangerous to us than the Jews” and that Tehran had engineered a deadly soccer riot in Port Said) hypes the film as an American-Coptic plot and introduces what he says is its opening scene.  ...  What exactly does the film say? It’s still not clear, but it appears to compare Mohammed to a goat and Muslims, according to one translation, to “child-lovers.” The New York Times’ Liam Stack, offering some offhand translations of the scene shown above, called it a “doozy.” The man in the scene says of his donkey, “This is the first Muslim animal.” He asks the goat if it likes girls; when it doesn’t answer, he bursts into laughter and says, “He doesn’t like girls,” according to Stack. Other scenes in the above clip seem to portray Muslim Egyptian characters, who for some reason all have strong New York accents, as immoral and violent, particularly toward the Christians whom they pursue with near-genocidal fervor. A number of Islam’s founding figures, including the prophet, are accused of homosexuality and child molestation.

The Turkish Weekly reports:

The violence in Benghazi followed protests in neighboring Egypt where protesters scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy and tore down the American flag and burned it during protests over what demonstrators said was a US film that insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and seat of Sunni learning condemned a symbolic “trial” of the Prophet organized by a US group including Terry Jones, a Christian pastor who triggered riots in Afghanistan in 2010 by threatening to burn the Koran.  But it was not immediately clear whether it was the event sponsored by Jones, or another, possibly related, anti-Islam production, that prompted the melee at the US Embassy in Egypt, and possibly the violence in Libya.

San Francisco Gate reports that:  An anti-Islamic movie whose screening triggered protests and attacks on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya that resulted in the death of an American, was an attempt to stoke sectarian tensions in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm said in a statement.  The Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political wing, “strongly condemned” what it said was a movie produced by U.S.-based Coptic Christians, dubbing it a “racist crime and a failed attempt to provoke sectarian strife between the two elements of the nation, Muslims and Christians,” according to a statement posted on the party’s website.

Sam Kiley reports on the film

If there was ever a propaganda product designed to enrage and incite violence it is The Innocence of Muslims.  A mere 14 minutes of the two-hour film produced by an Israeli-American has already provoked riots in Egypt, and an armed attack on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.  ...  A trailer posted on the internet on Tuesday reveals a crass, violent, amateurish and vindictive attack on the Prophet Mohammed.  He is portrayed as a pervert, drunk, and thief, who derives his own teachings not as a result of divine guidance but “made up… it will be a mix between versions of the Torah, and versions of the New Testament, and [made into] false verses”.

Better ignored than given the oxygen of publicity which has fanned flames in Libya, the film is likely to provoke further violence across the Islamic world.  The effects on Libya are particularly tragic. They play into the hands of small but well-organised violent Islamic groups who failed to attract much of a following in Libya’s first ever democratic election this year.

The Innocence of Muslims will now be seized upon by violent groups who will insist that it reflects the ‘true’ view of the Prophet by many Christians and other westerners.  Not least because many Muslims still live in nations in which there is no freedom of the press and therefore find it incomprehensible that even foolish videos of this nature are not produced with official state sanction.

Ahram Online published an article with the headline Diaspora Copts not responsible for anti-Islam film after the information about Sam Basile being the producer of the film was released.

An American-Israeli filmmaker went into hiding Tuesday after his film attacking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on US diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, where the US ambassador and three embassy staff were reportedly killed.  The film was initially believed to be produced by members of the Coptic Diaspora. Maurice Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian living in the US, and controversial Pastor Terry Jones, who is known for his burning of the Quran, are believed to have been promoting the film but were not involved in its production, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

A Tampa newspaper reports that

...  Terry Jones and other backers of Muhammad, a movie that repeatedly mocks the prophet and Islam, were unapologetic about the role they may have had in triggering the violence.  “The fact that angry protesters climbed the wall at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today, ripped down the American flag and tore it apart further indicates the lack of respect that Islam has for any other religion, any other flag, any freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of religion,” Jones said Tuesday in a statement released before the death in Benghazi was confirmed. “It further illustrates that they have no tolerance for anything outside of Muhammad.”  ...  Tuesday’s film controversy came as Jones announced he planned to put the prophet on trial in what he called International Judge Muhammad Day.  In a video announcing the “trial,” Jones, wearing a black shirt with the word “Infidel” printed on it in Arabic, said that he planned to charge the prophet “with being a false prophet, thus leading 1.6 billion people astray.”  Organizers of the Egyptian protest said they’d begun planning the event last week when a controversial Egyptian Christian activist who lives in the United States, Morris Sadek, released a trailer for Muhammad.

It is possible that rather than a spontaneous riot in Libya leading to the attack on the Embassy, Al Qaeda may have planned and carried out the attack.

The News in Pakistan reports that Al Qaeda released a video in September 11th

...  declaring the United States is at war with Islam and that American Muslims should brace for a “holocaust”, US monitors said Wednesday.  The video, which features Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as well as its American spokesman Adam Gadahn, is entitled “Truth has Come and Falsehood has Perished” and was posted on jihadist forums, according to SITE and IntelCenter.

According to a SITE transcript, Gadahn rejects President Barack Obama’s assertion that the United States is not at war with Islam because “America is crystal-clear about its opposition to Islam as a political system”.  Referring to US drone strikes, he says: “Today, American Muslims are being killed in Yemen, tomorrow they’re going to be killed (by the US government) in New York and Los Angeles. Get ready for the holocaust.”

Wael Ghonim a well known Egyptian journalist wrote  “Attacking the US embassy on September 11 and raising flags linked to Al Qaeda will not be understood by the American public as a protest over the film about the prophet. Instead, it will be received as a celebration of the crime that took place on September 11.”

The Quilliam Foundation in London published a statement which claims that The Attack on the US Consulate Was A Planned Terrorist Assault Against US and Libyan Interests by Al Qaeda

The military assault against the US Consulate in Benghazi should not be seen as part of a protest against a low budget film which was insulting Islam – there were just a few peaceful protesters present at the event. Indeed, there have been no other demonstrations regarding this film in Libya.

We at Quilliam believe the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was a well planned terrorist attack that would have occurred regardless of the demonstration, to serve another purpose. According to information obtained by Quilliam – from foreign sources and from within Benghazi – we have reason to believe that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi came to avenge the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s second in command killed a few months ago.

The reasons for this are as follows: — •24 hours before this attack, none other than the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video on Jihadist forums to mark the anniversary of 9/11. In this video, Zawahiri acknowledged the death of his second in command Abu Yahya and urged Libyans to avenge his killing. — •According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault – it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest. — •According to our sources, the attack against the Consulate had two waves. The first attack led to US officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against US officials after they were kept in a secure location.

The weak security environment in Libya including in Benghazi and the failure of the government to project its power outside of the capital have been used as a cover for the attack.  The failure to rebuild the defence and security sector, in an accountable, professional and responsible manner will only further the likelihood of such attacks in the future. Attacks in Benghazi are not new – the Red Cross has been attacked multiple times in previous months, as have the US consulate and also the UK Ambassador, and such security lapses encourage attacks. The International Community must take the challenge of not allowing extremist elements to hijack the Arab Uprisings very seriously, by renewing their focus on civic and governance responses to check the efforts of Islamist extremists attempting to exploit the inevitable security vacuum.

And, the New York Times published U.S. Suspects Libya Attack Was Planned which adds even more credibility to this Al Qaeda connection. That article says

...  Officials in Washington studying the events of the past 24 hours have focused on the differences between the protests at the American embassy in Cairo and the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the Libyan city where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the other Americans were killed.

The protesters in Cairo appeared to be a genuinely spontaneous unarmed mob angered by an anti-Islam video said to have been produced in the United States. By contrast, it appeared the attackers in Benghazi were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Intelligence reports are inconclusive at this point, officials said, but indications suggest the possibility that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack. ...

Loonwatch has put together a series of images from Libya titled Libyans Protest and Condemn Attack on US Consulate in Benghazi that shows many ordinary Libyans carrying handmade signs decrying the violence and expressing sorrow over the deaths. It is obvious from these photographs and from the outpouring of anger towards those who carried out this murder, that the Libyan people to not condone this action.

The confusion surrounding the film, and the events in Egypt and Libya deepens by the hour.

Sam Bacile doesn’t exist, and there may be no 2-hour film, only the 14-minute YouTube clip

Garance Franke-Ruta at the Atlantic provides a timeline, and reports that serious questions have been raised about details of Bacile’s identity as he has described it to reporters, as well as whether there is any full length film at all.)

CBS News reports that

But some key facts about Bacile’s background and role in the film crumbled Wednesday as a Christian activist involved in the film project said that Bacile was a pseudonym, that he was not Jewish or Israeli, and that a group of Americans of Mideast origin collaborated on the film. Officials in Israel also said there was no record of Bacile as an Israeli citizen.  Doubts mounted as well about the provenance of the film, “Innocence of Muslims.” Several Hollywood and California film industry groups and permit agencies said they had no records of the project. Only an employee at a faded Hollywood movie theater confirmed that an entire version of the film had staged a brief run several months ago.

Jeffrey Goldberg reports that there is a very real possibility that Sam Bacile is possibly at least a pseudonym, and that there might not be such a person.  Goldberg talked to Steve Klein who has been identified as a “consultant” on the film and got a confusing story.

Max Blumenthal published an article Meet The Right-Wing Extremist Behind Anti-Muslim Film That Sparked Deadly Riots which provides a great deal of information about Steve Klein and his anti-Muslim efforts. Blumenthal says:

... While Bacile claims to be in hiding, and his identity remains murky, another character who has been publicly listed as a consultant on the film is a known anti-Muslim activist with ties to the extreme Christian right and the militia movement. He is Steve Klein, a Hemet, California based insurance salesman who claims to have led a “hunter-killer team” in Vietnam.”

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 Shrugs, 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 activism against Muslims:   ...  Like many other activists who fashion themselves as “counter-Jihadists,” Klein has organized against the construction of mosques in his area. While leafleting against a planned mosque in Temecula, California, which he claimed would herald the introduction of Shariah law to the quiet suburb, Klein remarked, “It all comes down to the first amendment. I don’t care if you disagree with me. Just don’t cut off my head.”

Klein appears to be allied with the National American Coptic Assembly, a radical Islamophobic group headed by Morris Sadik. Morris Sadik claims to have discovered the film and began promoting it online. Once it went viral, the trailer was translated into Arabic, sparking outrage in the Middle East, and ultimately, to the deadly attacks carried out by Muslim extremists today.

Klein claims credit for inspiring “Sam Bacile” to produce “The Innocence of Muslims,” promising him he would be “the next Theo Van Gogh,” referring to the Dutch columnist who was murdered by a Muslim extremist. Of the attacks in Libya, Klein said, “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”

The Mail Online reports Steve Klein as making some strange statements to them.  He is certainly changing his story.  They report Klein as saying

  ...  ‘His name is a pseudonym,’ he said. ‘All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.”  ... But speaking to MailOnline, Klein said of the death: ‘It is not our fault, we told the truth’.  He said that he did not feel guilty for the murder of John Christopher Stevens and that the mob who carried it out were to blame as they were following Mohammed’s violent teachings.

Klein said that the film was designed to stop the Muslim population in America reaching 10 per cent as they would then ‘work together and attack their host country’.  He said: ‘I feel bad for the death of the ambassador - he didn’t do anything to anybody - but it’s not our fault. We didn’t want anybody to get killed but on the other hand the truth had to come out.  ‘We told the truth and these people reacted the way that Mohammed wanted to them to react - by killing people.  ‘Do I feel guilt? Yes, but not for me, I feel it for those that did this. Do I feel shame? Yes, but not for me. Killing this man fits in with their legal and ethical standpoint.’

Mr Klein, 62, added: ‘Whenever the Muslim population gets above 10 per cent they work together and attack the host country. It’s happening in the USA and it’s happening in the UK too.  “Our intent is to show people what America could look like in 50 to 75 years time. The truth is that Muslims are a violent people and they are taking the living with them over a cliff.’  While he declined to give details, Klein said the film was paid for by ‘Middle Easterners, Jewish people, Christians and a lot of former Muslims’. Some money came from Britain, Scotland, France, Germany and Holland,’ he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a backgrounder on Klein and the Church at Kaweah.  This passage is particularly relevant

Despite all the talk about Mexicans and government tyranny, the Church at Kaweah appears to be preparing for a showdown with a different enemy: Muslims.  The church’s obsession with Muslims appears to have begun in 2010, when it invited white Zimbabwean evangelist Peter Hammond to speak at its Old Paths conference. A staunch defender of Zimbabwe’s last white leader, the racial supremacist Ian Smith, Hammond heads a South Africa-based “ministry” called Frontline Fellowship that is anti-Islam, anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-communist. He believes all churches should be armed and ready for attack, admonishing Christians to remember the “four G’s of survival: Groceries, Guns, Gold and God.” In a pamphlet titled “The Christian At War” (available for purchase on the church’s website), Hammond says, “Much of the Bible is written by soldiers and for soldiers.”

Over the past year, Johnson and the church militia have developed a relationship with Steve Klein, a longtime religious-right activist who brags about having led a “hunter killer” team as a Marine in Vietnam. Klein, who calls Islam a “penis-driven religion” and thinks Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca is a Muslim Brotherhood patsy, is allied with Christian activist groups across California. In 2011, as head of the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, he worked with the Vista, Calif.-based Christian Anti-Defamation Commission on a campaign to “arm” students with the “truth about Islam and Muhammad” — mainly by leafleting high schools with literature depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed pedophile.

Klein, based in Hemet, Calif., has been active in extremist movements for decades. In 1977, he founded Courageous Christians United, which now conducts “respectful confrontations” outside of abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques. Klein also has ties to the Minuteman movement. In 2007, he sued the city of San Clemente for ordering him to stop leafleting cars with pamphlets opposing illegal immigration.

In addition to working with Johnson and the Church at Kaweah’s militia, Klein conducts drills with the Christian Guardians, a San Francisco-based group headed by Andrew Saqib James, an American-born Pakistani Christian who calls Islam “a giant crime syndicate” and hopes his group will become “the most feared militia in the world.” For the past year, the Church at Kaweah’s website has advertised joint trainings with the Christian Guardians and other likeminded groups. Based at the church’s sprawling grounds, the series of trainings is described as a “unique system of learning how to survive the Muslim Brotherhood as we teach the Christian Morality of Biblical Warfare.”

Clarkson, the journalist who specializes in religious extremism, said the Church at Kaweah appears to have been successful in integrating people with military expertise seamlessly into its theology of confrontation, in part by minimizing doctrinal differences that have bedeviled similar efforts by other radical churches.  “We saw the beginnings of this during the militia movement of the 1990s, but this appears to be more advanced,” Clarkson said. “Fifteen years ago, the idea of a church-based militia seemed novel. Now it seems likely to be a permanent model of far-right revolutionary organizations.”

The Washington Post reports on Morris Sadiq:

... fellow Copts depict Sadek as a fringe figure and publicity hound whose Islamophobic invectives disrupt Copts’ quest for equal religious rights in Egypt.

“Mr. Sadek is a maverick who belongs to a very narrow extreme current of Coptic activists,” the Washington-based group Coptic Solidarity said in a statement. “He likes to use inflammatory and abrasive language to insult Muslims and Islam. As his actions agitate more the Islamic extremists, some people wonder if he is not in fact working to fulfill their agenda.”

Cynthia Farahat, Coptic Solidarity’s director of advocacy, said Sadek “has done a lot of harmful things for Copts in Egypt.”  “Every single thing he says is used by Islamists to justify terrorism against Copts,” Farahat said.

According to the Egyptian Independent newspaper, Sadek was banned from entering Egypt and had his citizenship revoked in May 2011 because he called for war against the country.

Update 9/14 - Alex Kane reports Coptic Christian leader of organization that produced anti-Muslim film spoke at Pamela Geller’s anti-mosque rally.  That leader is Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih (aka Joseph Abdelmasih, aka Joseph Nasrallah), and Kane notes

The leader of the organization reportedly behind the anti-Muslim film sparking angry protests in the Middle East spoke at a rally opposing the Park 51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan last year. That rally, on September 11, 2010, was organized by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two leading Islamophobic activists and bloggers in the U.S.

The California-based Press Telegram reports today that an organization called Media for Christ produced the Islamophobic film at the center of the controversy that has sparked widespread protests in the Middle East.  ...  The head of Media for Christ is Joseph Abdelmasih, the Press Telegram reports. On California’s Secretary of State page, Media for Christ is registered as a business entity with Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih listed as the “agent for service of process.”

Nasralla Abdelmasih is an Egyptian Coptic Christian. Some members of that community, which have experienced tensions with Muslims in Egypt, have thrown their lot in with virulent Islamophobes in the U.S. 

The Associated Press revealed more details of who was behind the film yesterday, after a day-long scramble. The AP originally reported that it was an Israeli Jewish person who made the film, but that was a false claim. Last night, the news service reported that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian living in California, helped with the film.  It appears now that Nakoula had help from Abdelmasih.

Abdelmasih spoke at Geller’s and Spencer’s anti-mosque rally in Manhattan in 2010. The rally was organized to oppose the construction of the Park 51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan, a cause that attracted widespread media attention and led to other high-profile battles against the construction of mosques in the U.S.  “Wake up America!” said Abdelmasih, to a crowd of flag-waving Americans. He said the mosque will be built “over my dead body.”

Ironically, the crowd at the anti-mosque rally first thought that Abdelmasih and his partner were Muslim “infiltrators trying to disrupt the event,” as a letter Abdelmasih sent to Geller and Spencer read. The letter was published on Spencer’s Jihad Watch website.

Nasralla Abdelmasih has also worked with Steve Klein, the right-wing Christian extremist who was a consultant on the film. Yesterday, Max Blumenthal reported that “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.”

Pictured above See original article for photograph with Nasralla Abdelmasih is Morris Sadek. Sadek, as Chris Toensing of Middle East Report notes, is “well known for risible exaggeration about the proportion of Copts in the Egyptian population and clumsy attempts to exploit Islamophobia in the West to ‘help’ his co-religionists in Egypt.” ...

Kane’s article also includes his email exchange with Pamela Geller.  Kane asked Geller for her response to the fact that the leader of Media for Christ spoke at her anti-mosque rally in 2010.  Her response is listed below with the statements of the other Islamophobes listed below who are attempting to distance themselves from any involvement. 

The L.A. Times reports

Two Egyptian immigrants from Southern California became unlikely collaborators in the movie. Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon from Cerritos, emerged Thursday as forces behind “Innocence of Muslims.”  ...  Media for Christ, whose stated mission is to “glow Jesus’ light” to the world, obtained permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and Nakoula provided his home as a set and paid the actors, according to government officials and those involved in the production.  In a sign of the tensions the movie has sparked, Los Angeles County officials said the U.S. State Department had asked them not to release copies of the film permits containing information about who organized the shoot.

Rory Carroll reports in the Guardian:

Anti-islamic film search leads to coptic Christian in California Nakoula Basseley Nakoula claims role in the Innocence of Muslims saying it was intended as a provocative statement.    “... The hunt for the maker of the anti-Islamic video that inflamed mayhem in Egypt and Libya and triggered a diplomatic crisis has led to a Californian Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes.  Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who lives outside Los Angeles, confirmed on Wednesday he managed and provided logistics for The Innocence of Muslims.  ... He denied being Sam Bacile, the pseudonym for the video’s purportedly Israeli Jewish writer and director, but AP said the cellphone number it called for a telephone interview with Bacile on Tuesday matched Nakoula’s address.  His outing solidified growing evidence that members of Egypt’s Coptic diaspora, who complain of persecution by Egypt’s Muslim majority, were behind the making and promotion of the video.

The AP who are widely reported to have been the original source of the stories about Basile, now reports

that they spoke with Nakoula who said “that he managed logistics for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims,” ...  Nakoula denied he had directed the film, though he said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cellphone number that the AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where Nakoula was located.”

...  Nakoula denied he had posed as Sam Bacile. Federal court papers filed in a 2010 criminal prosecution against him said Nakoula had used numerous aliases in the past. Among the fake names, the documents said, were Nicola Bacily and Erwin Salameh.  During a conversation outside his home, Nakoula offered his driver’s license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found that middle name as well as other connections to the Bacile persona.

The AP located Bacile after obtaining his cell phone number from Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who had promoted the anti-Muslim film in recent days on his website. Egypt’s Christian Coptic populace has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country’s Arab majority.

Right Wing Watch has an article with more details on how this obscure film clip was promoted.

Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American anti-Muslim activist, managed in one week’s time to take an overlooked YouTube video featuring a lame attack on Islam and turn it into a flashpoint with violent extremists, with deadly consequences. As the New York Times reported last night, Sadek drew attention to the obscure video clip “in an Arabic-language blog post and an e-mail newsletter in English publicizing the latest publicity stunt of the Florida pastor Terry Jones, reviled in the Muslim world for burning copies of the Koran.” Within days the clip was making the rounds in Egypt, prompting denunciations from politicians and generating press coverage, and culminating in protests and a deadly attack in Libya.

Sadek, who has worked with Jones in the past, says he is fighting for the rights of his fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt. Unfortunately he seems much more focused on attacking Muslims than helping the Copts. Sadek pulled his Facebook profile around 1 pm today, but we were able to take a look beforehand. Here’s what we found.  Sadek is a supporter of Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America, which believes that President Obama has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. The group rallied its supporters last month behind Michelle Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witch hunt against Huma Abedin and others. Here’s Sadek with ACT! For America president Brigitte Gabriel at one of the group’s 2010 events.  ...

Al-Monitor has a detailed article about the twists and turns in this story The Filmmaker Who Wasn’t which includes information about Klein’s background and his connections with Sadek.  A few key passages that point to very interesting connections:

...  In a 2007 interview, Klein said that through a group that he had founded, called Middle Eastern Experts’ Team (MEET) “and his contacts with the Coptic community he has been asked to give his insights to the FBI and the U.S. Marine Corps.

An examination of California public records by Al-Monitor shows that in July 2011, Klein registered a group called the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment (CCFA) as a California business. The group has reportedly staged a few protests in front of Southern California high schools in 2011 to express opposition to mosques.  ...  Notably, a July 2011 letter from Klein on behalf of the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment to the Los Angeles City Attorney was posted by Klein to the website for the National American Coptic Assembly — the group headed by Sadek

The post and letter were dated July 2011, the same month that Klein formally registered Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment (CCFA) as a corporate entity with the State of California. The anti-Islam film was also reportedly made in 2011. Notable, as well, is that Klein’s group, Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, is registered in California as a business, not as a non-profit or advocacy group.

Klein registered Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment at a Murrieta, Calif., address, which public records show as the address and suite number of a law firm called Southwick & Biondi. A person who answered the phone at that firm Wednesday told Al-Monitor that he wasn’t immediately familiar with Steve Klein or the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, or why it would have been registered at that address. But he noted that one of the firm’s principals, Glen Biondi, had recently separated and started his own company.

Biondi, reached by Al-Monitor Wednesday, said that Klein was his client and that he had drawn up the articles of incorporation for Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment. “I did the articles for him, the by-laws,” Biondi told Al-Monitor, describing Klein as a “client.”  Was Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment incorporated last year to produce the film? “I have no idea,” Biondi said. “It was set up as a corporation.”  He declined to answer more questions about why an entity that sounded like an advocacy group was set up as a for-profit corporation, citing attorney-client privilege. Biondi, who now serves as president of Bondi Realty and Bondi Law Firm, said he had never heard of “Sam Bacile.”

And, it seems that the extremists who shamelessly use such tragedies to further their own agendas are not done bringing sorrow and pain to the rest of us.  The death of Ambassador Stevens is a tragedy on many levels, but most importantly on a personal level.  He has a family who are mourning.  Some disgusting individuals in Libya posted horrifying photographs of his dead body, an act of disrespect that can only be called savage and barbaric.  Rather than to simply decry such barbarism, both Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer posted those photographs at the top of articles on their sites (Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs).  This is not the first time they have shown such savage disrespect for the dead - praise for Marines urinating on dead bodies and insults directed at the victims of the Norway massacre are two previous examples.  Spencer even used the headline In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man referring to their hate group SION’s anti-Muslim ads, and inferring that not only those responsible for the attack on the Embassy, but all Muslims are somehow responsible.  Making such photographs widely available is not respectful of Ambassador Stevens, or his family.  They have suffered enough.

Richard Bartholomew reports  more on the connections between Steve Klein, Joseph Nasralla and known Islamophobes discussed above by Max Blumenthal.  “II discussed Nasralla in June 2010 here, after he took part in Pamela Geller’s anti-mosque protest in New York (he came to wide attention because he had been mistaken for a Muslim and abused). As reports note, Klein has a programme, entitled Wake Up America, on Nasralla’s The Way TV station.”

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the film “Innocence of Muslims”  was produced by Media for Christ, a non-profit organization located in Duarte, California.  Media for Christ took out a film permit for the production and used the Blue Cloud studios in Santa Clarita as the film’s location.  They also report that “Steve Klein, who claims to have consulted a Jewish filmmaker using the name Sam Bacile, said Media for Christ “had nothing to do with the filming of this movie.” But Klein also said he could not say where exactly the video was filmed.”  They add the information that “Klein said he has taped a television show called “Wake Up America” on The Way TV, which shares the same Duarte address as Media for Christ, according to public records.”

Rachel Tabachnik reports “Media for Christ received its non-profit designation with the IRS in 2009. According to the organization’s 990 tax forms, Nasralla (listed as Joseph N. Abdelmasih) is the president, Kamal Rizk of Raleigh, N.C. is vice president and CPA, and Rania W. Mossad is secretary of the non-profit. Income increased from 65,000 dollars in 2007 to over one million dollars in 2011. The latest available 990 showed a “program expense” of $10,500 dollars for “TV broadcast” in Egypt.”

ABC reports Steve Klein as saying “The filmmaker’s idea was to give the film a title that would draw in “hardcore Muslims” and then trick them into watching a movie that bashed Islam in the hopes that they would give up their faith.” 

CBS News reports

Attorney General Eric Holder said that Justice Department officials had opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats killed during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi. It was not immediately clear whether authorities were focusing on the California filmmaker as part of that probe[.  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.

...  In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the film is “disgusting and reprehensible.” She called it a cynical attempt to offend people for their religious beliefs but said the U.S. would never stop Americans from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful.  Still, she said the film is no justification for violence or attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel.

9/14 The Telegraph reports that

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, has convictions for possessing drugs used to make methamphetamine and bank fraud, a declaration of bankruptcy, demands for unpaid tax bills, and a byzantine network of at least 17 aliases including “Kritbag Difrat” and “PJ Tobacco.”

Nakoula, a balding, married father of three and an Egyptian Coptic Christian, who once owned a petrol station, is believed to have worked on the script for “Innocence of Muslims” in a California jail cell.  Production began weeks after he was released from a halfway house in June last year.  He is currently on probation after serving a year of a 21-month sentence for fraud, which involved obtaining credit cards in the names of other people.

He was also banned from using the internet, computers and email without the approval of a probation officer for five years.  But in July a “Sam Bacile,” believed to be Nakoula, uploaded a 14-minute trailer to YouTube. The California probation department is investigating whether he breached his conditions.

The casting notice to hire actors for the “Desert Warrior” film now called “Innocence of Muslims” on Craigslist says auditions will be held July 12th, 2011 and said the film would be shot in 18 days in August.  Another casting notice posted on Mooncasting lists the Director of the film as Alan Roberts.  The film was reported to have been made in 2011, and Media for Christ obtained permits to shoot the movie in August 2011.

Time reports on a number of individuals involved in the film including:

...  Alan Roberts may or may not be a pseudonym. But focus has shifted to Roberts after Nakoula — presumably the same person as Sam Bacile — refused to admit he was the director. Gawker interviewed Eric Moers, hired as a grip and electrician for the Desert Warrior film, who laid out the on-set politics: “Alan was working under Sam, sort of,” he said. “But Alan was directing the movie, there was no question about it.” Both Moers and Dax described the film’s director as a 50ish white male, and a search of IMDB yields one Alan Roberts fitting the billing. According to the site, Roberts has directed nine films, most recently the 1994 B-movie Save Me. VICE has traced the Alan Roberts name to a man named Robert Brownell, whom they say purchased pre-production services related to the Desert Warrior film in 2009 and 2011. According to their records, Robert Brownell also goes by the name Robert Alan Brown, which contains unmistakable similarities to the Alan Roberts identity.  But the biggest problem to Moers wasn’t the director’s name, it was his skill: “He was a directorial hack, he didn’t know basic things,” Moer said.

...  A small movie house on Hollywood Boulevard, the Vine supposedly screened the Innocence of Muslims film in late June. At the time, according to the Daily Beast, it may have been known as Innocence of Bin Laden. An employee, who didn’t want to be identified, told the Associated Press that the movie had indeed run there, to a mostly empty theater. A man identified only as Sam had asked them to show it. According to the Daily Beast, police officers were sent to monitor the theater. “You don’t know who your audience is going to be,” an official said. “People get riled up.” The unnamed law officer told the Daily Beast that during the premiere, they also monitored a man they were told was the director. Nakoula, the source said, sat anxiously at a restaurant across the street, focused on the theater entrance. The Associated Press noted the theater was padlocked upon a visit Wednesday.

...  Terry Jones Already infamous for his Koran-burning stunts and far-right sentiments, Jones heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. He is known for his vocal anti-Muslim views and is a professed supporter of Innocence of Muslims, although there is no evidence to suggest he was a financial backer or part of its production. He did, however, screen its trailer on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, for audience attending his International Judge Muhammad Day.  In a statement sent to TIME, Jones said, “We have been contacted by the producer of the film to help distribute it.”  Jones’ media stunts have had far-reaching consequences in the past. In 2010 he threatened to burn a copy of the Koran over plans to build a Muslim cultural center near the site of the World Trade Center, bringing international attention to his obscure evangelical ministry. He stopped the action after pleas from several senior officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Later, he did it anyway, inciting riots in Afghanistan that resulted in 11 deaths.

In June 2012, Geller and Spencer held what they variously called AFDI/SIOA Historic Human Rights Townhall or AFDI/SIOA “Summer Night for Human Rights”, and which I called an anti-Muslim hate festJoseph Nasrallah and Eric Allen Bell attended this function which included many former Muslim speakers.  In her articles, Geller includes a photo of herself and Nasrallah, and a photo of Eric Allen Bell sitting in the audience.

Innocent Jewish people around the world have been put in danger.  Innocent Muslims have been put in danger.  Innocent Coptic Christians in Egypt have been put in danger.  Americans abroad have been put in danger.  Relationships between governments have been strained.  Relationships between religious communities have been strained.  Al Qaeda has been handed a propaganda coup.

There has been violence and destruction and human beings have died because of events set in motion by the conspiracy set in motion by these individuals.  One of the Key players in this, Klein said “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”   This means that they knew that such provocation would lead to violence, and yet they went ahead with this plan. 

If the goal or intention of these individuals was to inflame Muslims with the hateful film, provoke a response, incite anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, engender hatred, stir up animosity between Jews and Muslims, and between Muslims and Coptic Christians, destabilize the Egyptian government, further tarnish the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world, and stir up more bigotry and suspicion between American Muslims and their fellow citizens, then they have succeeded.  If their goal was to raise the issue of the injustices against the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt, then they have failed miserably.  Just last month, there was a joint U.S. Muslim & Christian Statement Regarding Egyptian Minorities, and MPAC and ISNA are working on projects to protect the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority countries.  Those are the sorts of efforts that may help heal divisions.

It seems to me that terms like conspiracy, hate crime, incitement to violence, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, psychological terrorism, and traitors, all apply here.  If these individuals have not crossed a legal line, they have certainly crossed moral, and ethical lines.  American Muslims, including myself have stood strongly for the freedom of speech.  The Defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims statement to which I was a signatory makes that point clear.  However, there is a point at which protected speech crosses the line between free speech and hate speech, and I believe that these individuals have crossed that line.

The only figure that I know of in the Torah, the New Testament, or the Qur’an, who would be honored by the actions of any of these extremists is Satan. 

These religious and political extremists use religion as a cover to attempt to justify actions that can only be called evil.  They want to provoke a reaction, as it feeds into their narratives, or they believe they can use the suffering of others to aid their own political cause.  All of the extremists have more in common with each other than they do with the majority of decent people of their faith.  Their actions bring disgrace on other members of the faiths they claim, and they bring nothing but more hatred, chaos, and suffering to the rest of the world.

See Extremist Christians Produce Anti-Muslim Film Blame Jews for a summary of what we know about this film and its’ producers so far.

 

It appears that the actors in the film were duped, and that dialogue was changed by dubbing over.

Earlier today, Sarah Abdurrahman wrote an article Why Are All the Religious References in “Innocence of Muslims” Dubbed? in which she asked some pertinent questions and notes specific instances of dubbing.  She said

...  If you watch closely, you can see that when the actors are reading parts of the script that do not contain Islam-specific language, the audio from the sound stage is used (the audio that was recorded as the actors were simultaneously being filmed). But anytime the actors are referring to something specific to the religion (the Prophet Muhammed, the Quran, etc.) the audio recorded during filming is replaced with a poorly executed post-production dub. And if you look EVEN closer, you can see that the actors’ mouths are saying something other than what the dub is saying.

For example, at 2:53, the voiceover says “His name is Muhammed. And we can call him The Father Unknown.” In this case, the whole line is dubbed, and it appears the actor is actually saying, “His name is George (?). And we can call him The Father Unknown.” I assume the filmmakers thought they were being slick, thinking that dubbing the whole line instead of just the name would make it more seamless and less noticeable to the viewer. But once you start to look for these dubs, it’s hard to see anything else. ...

Gawker has a report ‘It Makes Me Sick’: Actress in Muhammed Movie Says She Was Deceived, Had No Idea It Was About Islam which has a lengthy interview with an actress who appeared in the film.  Here is a brief extract from that article

In the script and during the shooting, nothing indicated the controversial nature of the final product. Muhammed wasn’t even called Muhammed; he was “Master George,” Cindy Garcia said. The words Muhammed were dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam and Muhammed.  For example, at 9:03 in the trailer, Garcia berates her husband, who wants to send their daughter to Muhammed: “Is your Muhammed a child molester?” she says in the final product. But the words are dubbed over what she actually said. The line in the script—and the line Garcia gave during filming—was, “is your God a child molester,” Garcia told us today.  Garcia was horrified when she saw the end product, and when protesters in Libya killed four U.S. Embassy employee.  “I had nothing to do really with anything. Now we have people dead because of a movie I was in. It makes me sick.”

Update 9/14 Cindy Garcia who is being widely quoted as having duped into appearing in this film posted the video on her YouTube account a month ago, and again 3-days ago.  She may have been duped originally, but she must have watched the video before she posted it? 

CNN reports that the entire staff and crew say they were misled, and have issued a statement. They report that “A casting call published in July 2011 in Backstage magazine and in other publications for actors identifies the working title of the movie as “Desert Warrior” and describes it as a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”

FREE SPEECH VERSUS HATE SPEECH

Abbas Barzegar has written Nothing Farcical About anti-Muhammad Film which discusses the free speech versus hate speech implications of this film:

,,,  We have been here before. The late Ayatollah Khomeini’s notorious edict against Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in 1989, The Danish Cartoon controversy in 2005, and Pastor Terry Jones’s Qur’an burning stunt in 2010. Anyone who has a inkling of familiarity with the Muslim world knows that sacrilege and blasphemy are not understood as acts of free speech, political expression, or artistic creativity. No, they are bright red lines that promise public panic and guarantee violence. Couple that reality with two centuries of colonial and neo-imperial European domination of the greater Middle East and you have the perfect storm for an international communications disaster. So, as history repeats itself, the only thing ludicrous is the incessant stubbornness of both the West’s commitment to “free speech” and the Muslim world’s rush to violence, the irony of which is lost upon them both.

...  But one look at Sam Bacile’s film will demonstrate that its vitriolic message elevates it to the status of a hate crime.  The movie depicts Muhammad as sexually licentious, insane, and fanatically violent. It draws upon (in the most uncreative ways) a long line of anti-Muslim stereotypes that date to the crusades. In short these stereotypes are to Islamophobia what blood libel is anti-Semitism.

What is farcical is not only that Muslims who murder in the name of Islam reinforce the very stereotypes that caused their outrage but also that western democratic societies which continue to protect what amounts to hate speech reinforce their own stereotypes in the Muslim world as Godless moral relativists. Even more ironic however is that the chorus of condemnation on all sides will be loudly sounded, yet there will be no mechanism of force or law to stop this deadly child’s play of provocation and retaliation.

Consider this: how is it possible that not the FBI nor Secretary of Defense Robert Gates could stop Pastor Terry Jones from putting the Quran on Trial and burning it when it was well known that the act would cause violence around the world and harm the security of the US personnel abroad? Likewise, how is possible that despite the most elaborate condemnations from Muslim religious authorities around the world that they could not stop a mob of thugs from storming the consulate in Benghazi and murdering the ambassador that helped them overthrow Qaddafi?

Another layer of irony, still, will be our own melancholy reactions. As more protests unfold in the coming days and more violence abounds, the average global citizen will simply shake their heads, dumbfounded, and make hollow appeals for calm and reason. What we have yet to understand is that whether it takes the shape of Muhammad or the concept of Free Speech, the sacred remains untouchable. Until we find a system of law that limits the abuse of our sacred symbols, we can count on Marx’s promise that our coming days will be filled with nothing but farce.

CBS News reports

Attorney General Eric Holder said that Justice Department officials had opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats killed during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi. It was not immediately clear whether authorities were focusing on the California filmmaker as part of that probe.

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.  ...  In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the film is “disgusting and reprehensible.” She called it a cynical attempt to offend people for their religious beliefs but said the U.S. would never stop Americans from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful.  Still, she said the film is no justification for violence or attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel.

THE DISTANCING BEGINS

Immediately after the tragic events in Libya many of the key players in the Islamophobia industry began making statements distancing themselves from the film and from the despicable nature of the films attacks on Prophet Muhammad.  Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy communications director, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Pastor Warren Mark Campbell of the Church at Kaweah, Terry Jones, Rob Sivulka of Courageous Christians United, Nikoula Bassely Nakoula, Joseph Nasralla, Ali Sina - all made some sort of distancing statement.  See The “Innocence” of the Islamophobes and the Film No One Wants to Be Connected With.

THE CRISIS BECOMES AN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT

The L.A. Times reports that the U.S. Administration has flagged the video of the film and asked YouTube to review the content.

The tragic violence continues to play out.   Betsy Hiel, a Cairo-based correspondent for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, published pictures of the US Embassy in Cairo, which she reports were defaced with graffiti praising Osama Bin Laden and threatening Jews. 

Protests, some violent, have continued and spread to Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Kashmir, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran etc.  As of Friday evening, there have been protests in 20 countries, mostly focusing on U.S. Embassies. 

In Yemen at least one protester was killed and four others were wounded when police tried to control a crowd storming the American embassy.  In Tripoli, Lebanon, at least one protester was killed and 25 were injured.  In Tunisia the American Embassy has been burned down as has an American school and there are at least 2 dead and 29 injured.  The German Embassy was burned down in Sudan.

The Pope has arrived in Lebanon for a scheduled visit in spite of the protests.  The NY Times reports

Protests this week outside United States diplomatic outposts complicated the pope’s trip, and the Vatican has walked a fine line so as not to inflame Muslims.

On Wednesday, after news of the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, in an assault on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement that focused on the video, which mocks the Prophet Muhammad. He said, “Unjustified offense and provocations” against Muslims produce “sometimes tragic results” that yield “unacceptable violence.”  On Thursday, Father Lombardi issued a statement denouncing the ambassador’s death, saying that the Vatican called “for the firmest possible condemnation on the part of the Holy See. Nothing, in fact, can justify the activity of terrorist organizations and homicidal violence.”

The Atlantic Wire has an excellent map of the protests around the world

There are now U.S. Marines on the ground in Yemen.

THREATS IN THE U.S.

The FBI has warned that there could be violence even within the U.S., and has cautioned U.S. citizens traveling abroad to be cautious.

The University of Texas received a bomb threat from a man claiming to be with al-Qaida who said he had placed bombs all over the 50,000-student Austin campus.  The campus was evacuated, but no bombs found.  The same sort of incident was reported at North Dakota State University.  ** And, another at Hiram College. **

The Islamic Center of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia was vandalized sometime on Thursday night. The center is a place of worship for people of Islamic faith.  We cannot show the vandalism in its entirety because the images were very vulgar. It appeared to be male genitalia and was spray painted as well as racial slurs against blacks, and vulgar references to Iraqis. **

SEE ALSO:

“Innocence of Muslims”: Film and International Crisis (TAM article collection)  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/article-collection/0019361 for an extensive collection of articles on this crisis