California Coptic Christian Confirms Role in Anti-Islam Film - Gillian Flaccus and Stephen Braun (AP)
The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55,
a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.
The cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula.
Federal court papers said Nakoula's aliases included Nicola Bacily. 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.
Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, said he spoke with the movie's director on the phone Wednesday. "I have not met him. Sam Bacile, that is not his real name," Jones said.
See also Muhammad-Film Consultant: "Sam Bacile" Is Not Israeli, and Not a Real Name - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic)
Steve Klein, a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, California, who has been described as a consultant to the film, told me that "Sam Bacile," the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish.
Who Was Behind the Muhammad Movie? - Adrian Chen (Gawker)
The actors who appeared in
the Muhammed movie which sparked deadly protests in Libya and Egypt had no idea they were starring in anti-Islam propaganda, believing they were appearing in a film about the life of a generic Egyptian 2,000 years ago.
Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress from Bakersfield, Calif., said the script she was given was titled "Desert Warriors."
"It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago," Garcia said. "It wasn't based on anything to do with religion....There wasn't anything about Muhammad or Muslims or anything."
In the script and during the shooting, the leading character was called "Master George," Garcia said.
The word "Muhammad" was dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam and Muhammad.
Garcia said the film's writer and director, "Sam Bacile," told her he was Egyptian, and she saw him speaking Arabic with other men on the set.
See also Cast Says "Grossly Mislead" about Purpose of Film (CNN)
See also No Mention of Muhammad, Islam in Casting Call for Film (Mooncasting)
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- Two Killed as U.S. Troops Ambushed en route to Rescue Besieged Diplomats in Benghazi - Hadeel Al Shalchi
A squad of U.S. troops dispatched by helicopter to rescue besieged diplomats from Benghazi on Wednesday ran into a fierce ambush that left a further two Americans dead, Libyan officials said. Libyan Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit met the U.S. troops at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, their ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.
"I really believe that this attack was planned," he said. "The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries." Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif estimated that a dozen or more Americans were hurt.
- Deadly Embassy Attacks Were Days in the Making - Sara Lynch and Oren Dorell
Days of planning and online promotion by hard-line Islamist leaders helped whip up the mobs that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya.
The protest was planned by Salafists well before news circulated of an objectionable video ridiculing Islam's prophet, Muhammad, said Eric Trager, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was announced Aug. 30 by Jamaa Islamiya, a State Department-designated terrorist group, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. (USA Today)
See also Libya Consulate Attack Came after Militants Joined Protesters - Greg Miller and Michael Birnbaum
At least an hour before the assault began, a stream of cars was seen moving toward the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and as many as 50 heavily armed militants had gathered outside its high walls. The gunmen soon opened fire, entered the compound and set the consulate's buildings aflame.
- Clinton: "This Was an Attack by a Small and Savage Group"
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking Wednesday on the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, Libya,
said: "This was an attack by a small and savage group - not the people or Government of Libya....Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Libyans...helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety."
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet....There is no justification for this, none. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith." (State Department)
- Russia, China Join West to Rebuke Iran - Fredrik Dahl
Russia and China backed four Western powers on Wednesday to step up diplomatic pressure on Iran, agreeing on a draft resolution at the UN nuclear agency to rebuke Iran over its expanded uranium enrichment program. (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Offers Condolences over U.S. Ambassador's Murder
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday about events in Libya:
"The people of Israel grieve with the American people; we send our condolences to the families. If there's any people in the world that understands what Americans are going through, what they went through in 9/11, it's the people of Israel, who've been standing at the forefront of the battle against terrorism, who've lost loved ones and who deeply, deeply sympathize with the people of America at this time." (Prime Minister's Office)
See also Slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Remembered by Colleagues in Israel - Danna Harman
"They got the wrong guy," said a Jerusalem-based friend of Amb. Christopher Stevens, who was killed Wednesday in Benghazi. "If there was someone who cared about the Arab and Muslim world, it was Chris," who had served as the political section chief at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. "He spoke Arabic, he was dedicated to the cause of the Arabs." (Ha'aretz)
- Palestinians Call for Protests to End Oslo Accords - Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian activists have called for mass demonstrations in the West Bank on Friday to demand an end to the Oslo Accords and other agreements signed between the PLO/PA and Israel.
- Spotlight Is on Libya, but Bigger Challenge for White House May Lie in Egypt - Helene Cooper and Mark Landler
For all the harrowing images of the deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi, the far bigger long-term problem may lie in Egypt. In Egypt, the second-largest recipient of American foreign aid, President Morsi issued only a mild rebuke of the rioters, while his movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, called for a second day of protests against the lurid anti-Muslim video that set off the riots.
Martin S. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, noted: "This was the fourth time an embassy was assaulted in Cairo with the Egyptian police doing precious little. And where was President Morsi's condemnation of this?" Morsi waited 24 hours before issuing his statement against the militants who stormed the embassy.
What makes Egypt's uncertain course so vexing for the White House is that Mr. Obama, more than any other foreign leader, has sided again and again with the Arab street in Cairo.
"How does the president go to the Hill and say, 'We need to forgive $1 billion in Egyptian debt?'" said Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(New York Times)
- Struggle for Ideological Upper Hand in Muslim World Seen in Attacks - Robert F. Worth
As in earlier riots that followed the burning of Korans in Afghanistan and the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in Denmark, once again many in the West found themselves asking why Islam seems to routinely answer
perceived blasphemies with violence. Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton University, said, "It's true that there are sanctions against insulting the Prophet, but this is really about political or symbolic opportunists, who use religious symbols to advance their own power or prestige against other groups."
Libya and Egypt are especially vulnerable to this kind of contest over symbols and power, where newly empowered ultraconservative religious groups known as Salafis are keen to assert their visibility and influence. (New York Times)
- U.S. Consulate Attack in Libya Underlines Threat of Salafi Fundamentalists - Ian Black
The onslaughts in Benghazi and Cairo underline the glowering and dangerous presence of the sort of radical Muslim fundamentalists whom the old regimes kept at bay and are now free to pursue their agendas. Gaddafi and Mubarak may have been unreconstructed dictators, but U.S. diplomats were usually safe. In Libya, Salafi extremists killed an American official who was instrumental in helping overthrow Gaddafi.
The attacks are likely to curb what enthusiasm remains for U.S. activism in the Arab world as the fear of Islamist chaos overwhelms hope for the springtime of Arab democracy. (Guardian-UK)
Another Blow in the Islamists' War - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
- Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and the three other American dead are the latest victims of a war that started decades ago.
- The excuse this time was the publication on YouTube of the trailer for a movie in which Prophet Muhammad is supposedly insulted. The trailer reveals a mixture of ignorance and prejudice, but it has nothing to do with the U.S. government or the American people.
- America is at war because there are Islamists who believe that the U.S. is the last remaining obstacle to their dream of subjugating the "Infidel" through terror dubbed as "jihad."
America is at war because those who dream of reviving the Islamic caliphate fear its cultural and political attraction as much as its military and economic power.
- In Libya, Islamist parties suffered a resounding defeat in the nation's first free elections. Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the winning National Forces Alliance, has declared "close ties with the U.S." as a key aspect of his program. Muhammad Morsi, the new president of Egypt, has described the Arab Spring as "a movement for democracy and dignity," not Islamic sharia.
- The Cairo and Benghazi raids reflect not just Islamo-fascist groups' abiding hatred (mixed with resentful awe) for America, but also their growing fear that part of the Islamist movement may be succumbing to seduction by the U.S., which, with its emphasis on individual freedoms and freedom of faith and speech, is a potent symbol of what they despise.
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