California man linked to anti-Islam film taken in for questioning

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012 (Reuters / Bret Hartman)

A California man convicted of bank fraud was taken in for questioning on Saturday by officers investigating possible probation violations stemming from the making of an anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests in the Muslim world.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, voluntarily left his home in the early hours of Saturday morning for the meeting in a sheriff’s station in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

“He will be interviewed by federal probation officers,” Whitmore said. He said Nakoula had not been placed under arrest but would not be returning home immediately. “He was never put in handcuffs… It was all voluntary.”

Nakoula, who has denied involvement in the film in a phone call to his Coptic Christian bishop, was ushered out of his home and into a waiting car by several sheriff’s deputies, his face shielded by a scarf, hat and sunglasses.

The crudely made 13-minute English-language film, filmed in California and circulated on the Internet under several titles including “Innocence of Muslims”, mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

The film sparked a violent protest at the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi during which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday. Protests have spread to other countries across the Muslim world.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.

U.S. officials have said authorities were not investigating the film project itself, and that even if it was inflammatory or led to violence, simply producing it cannot be considered a crime in the United States, which has strong free speech laws.

Two attorneys visited Nakoula’s home hours before he was taken in for questioning. They said they were there to consult with him.


Nakoula, whose name has been widely linked to the film in media reports, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010 and was sentenced to 21 months in prison, to be followed by five years on supervised probation, court documents showed.

He was accused of fraudulently opening bank and credit card accounts using Social Security numbers that did not match the names on the applications, a criminal complaint showed. He was released in June 2011, and at least some production on the video was done later that summer.

But the terms of Nakoula’s prison release contain behavior stipulations that bar him from accessing the Internet or assuming aliases without the approval of his probation officer.

A senior law enforcement official in Washington has indicated the probation investigation relates to whether he broke one or both of these conditions. Violations could result in him being sent back to prison, court records show.

Clips of the film posted on the Internet since July have been attributed to a man by the name of Sam Bacile, which two people linked to the film have said was likely an alias.

A telephone number said to belong to Bacile, given to Reuters by U.S.-based Coptic Christian activist Morris Sadek who said he had promoted the film, was later traced back to a person who shares the Nakoula residence.

Stan Goldman, a Loyola Law School professor, said whether Nakoula is sent back to jail over potential probation violations linked to the film, such as accessing the Internet, was a subjective decision up to an individual judge.

“Federal judges are gods in their own courtrooms, it varies so much in who they are,” he said, noting such a move would be based on his conduct not on the content of the film.

As well as the fraud conviction, Nakoula also pleaded guilty in 1997 to possession with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and was sentenced to a year in jail, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

  1. #1 by Cheryl D. Uzamere on 09/15/2012 - 9:34

    The largest percentage of men in federal prisons are black and Muslim. Nakoula might have a big problem. I believe that Nakoula got greedy and took money from some Jews to participate in making the film. The Jews need a body, and they are not willing to take the blame for it so now they have Nakoula.

    I do not believe that Nakoula has long to live. The Jews will not allow Nakoula to blame them.

  2. #2 by Ingrid B on 09/15/2012 - 9:34

    Wasn`t there a similar incident recently, involving an Iranian?

  3. #3 by theproudgoyim on 09/15/2012 - 9:34

    Ok the guy doesn’t sound like a good Christain example, but what is the point of the information? Please let’s not go the way of the ADL in bringing up stuff that has nothing to do with the situation. My question WHO was really behind this video? Was Israel linked to this piece of crap video?

  4. #4 by restinpieces on 09/15/2012 - 9:34

    In dem Film “Die Unschuld der Muslime” wird der Prophet Mohammed als blutrünstig und sexuell abartig dargestellt.

  5. #5 by MJ on 09/16/2012 - 9:34

    Thought you might like to see the show after another such incident involving the latest Pope’s comments regarding Islam.

    Taji Mustafe (HT UK) Taji the tiger and Mark the general (perhaps we should get him on one of our programs?)
    Muslims and Free Speech

  6. #6 by lolathecur on 09/20/2012 - 9:34

    in order to understand the truth in the scripture you must look up and understand the meanings of these words. they will be found in Strongs bible dictionary with corresponding verses where they are used. get to studying now! here are the words: Yahakobe, Yhuwdiy, Yehoodawee, Ioudaismos, Idudaios, Dath, Yehhodeeth, Yahad. do not let liars decieve you..please consider this very important subject for future discussions on shows. Thank you jeff turner

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