‘Innocence of Muslims’ led to protests across Egypt and Libya on Tuesday
Producer claimed he was an Israeli Jew living in California named Sam Bacile
But film’s consultant, Steve Klein, said the man was using a pseudonym
Amid concerns over the filmmakers’ safety, Klein: ‘I sleep with a 12 gauge shotgun by me and my wife sleeps with a 38 caliber pistol next to her’
Also doubts over veracity of film after poorly dubbed scenes and editing
Cast and crew distanced themselves from film saying they were ‘misled’
Speculation Bacile could be Morris Sadek, an anti-Islamic Epytian
PUBLISHED:07:09 EST, 12 September 2012| UPDATED:16:57 EST, 12 September 2012
Unapologetic: Steve Klein was a consultant on the film that sparked outrage in Libya and Egypt – but said the filmmaker worked under a pseudonym
A search is on for the man behind the ‘blasphemous’ film that branded Mohammed a fraud, a pedophile and a womaniser and sparked deadly protests after records apparently reveal he does not exist.
Questions have also arisen about the veracity of the film itself after a trailer shows it is poorly over-dubbed and edited – despite claims it cost $5 million to make.
The producer, whose movie led to demonstrations that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other American officials dead on Tuesday, has previously claimed he was an Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile living in California.
But his identity began to crumble as it emerged Israeli authorities had no records of him being a citizen, and there were no property, phone, license or court records of Bacile in California.
He also has virtually no footprint in the Hollywood community, has no agent listed on IMDBPro and no credits on any film or TV production.
Steve Klein, a consultant for the film, told the Nationalthat Bacile is not Israeli or Jewish and is in fact working under a pseudonym – but he does not know the man’s real name.
It raises questions over the real identity of the man behind the ‘offensive’ film and his motives for creating a movie that promised to spark outrage – and death.
And it appears he fooled the 80 cast and crew members who worked on the film, Innocence of Muslims, who claimed in a statement that they were misled by the producer.
‘The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,’ they said. ‘We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose.
‘We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.’
Fury: The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, right, died amid violent protests against the film
‘Bacile’ claimed the two-hour movie cost $5 million and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, who believe the film will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world.
Yet the film’s trailer, which is on YouTube, show poor production values that call that tall expenditure into question.
Klein, who works as a Christian activist in California, said ‘Bacile’ contacted him with help on the film as he leads anti-Islam protests. ‘The Middle East Christian and Jewish communities trust me,’ he said.
Klein added he knew little about the filmmaker, but was certain Israel and the radical Christian pastor Terry Jones were not involved.
‘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.’
Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote the article for the National, said he will take the interview with Klein ‘with a grain of salt’ – yet he still has nothing to prove the name is anything but a pseudonym.
Fury: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames after a mob attacked the base
The strange turn of events come after a 13-minute trailer for his film, The Innocence of Muslims, was dubbed in Arabic last week and immediately sparked outrage in Egypt.
Despite ‘Bacile’ claiming it cost $5 million, the film showcases an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons.
In an original English version and one dubbed into Arabic, Muhammad is depicted as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in a ridiculing way, showing him having sex and demanding massacres.
Matters came to a head yesterday when hundreds of mainly ultraconservative Islamist protesters marched to the US Embassy in downtown Cairo and circled the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Amid the demonstration it is believed a group of attackers took the opportunity to target the embassy, releasing grenades, opening fire and killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other officials.
Violence: A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late yesterday
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.
Protection: Egyptian soldiers sit at one entrance to the US embassy, one day after Islamist protesters scaled the walls of the embassy in Cairo
An Egyptian protester yells slogans in front of United States Embassy , the morning after it was vandalised. Protests are continuing in front of the US Embassy in Cairo, one day after thousands of Egyptians demonstrated at the Embassy compound
‘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.’
Outrage: Pastor Terry Jones, who inflamed anger in the Muslim world in 2010 with plans to burn the Koran, said he had promoted Innocence of Muslims
Mr Klein, a Christian who is now head of a group called Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, said that he was prepared for a backlash against him personally.
He said: ‘I am not afraid and if these people tried to kill me they would not be the first. I sleep with a 12 gauge shotgun by me and my wife sleeps with a 38 caliber pistol next to her.
‘I live in rural California with lots and lots of guns – I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.’
Mr Klein said that he had spoken to Mr Bacile on Tuesday night and that the director was ‘in fear of his life’.
Klein said he warned the director ‘you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh’ – a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam.
Mr Klein said: ‘He is scared and nervous. He didn’t say much. Going into this we knew something was going to happen, but we didn’t realise this. He is in hiding and I have no idea where he is.’
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.
But when it premiered in a cinema in Los Angeles three months ago, he thought it was a ‘failure’.
Mr Klein said: ‘We handed out flyers all around Southern California. It was originally called: ‘The Innocence of bin Laden’ as we wanted to draw in the most radical Muslims and we figured the one per cent who were the most militant would interested.
Murdered: Chris Stevens, pictured in Tripoli in June, was a 21-year veteran of the foreign service and determined to bring democracy to the people of Libya
‘In the end nobody showed up to see the premiere. I called Sam right away and he sank into a depression.
Concern: There were fears ‘Bacile’ could be targeted like Theo van Gogh, pictured, who was killed by a Muslim extremist after making an anti-Islamic film
‘I told him nobody was there and he said: ‘Really?’ He was really upset. It seemed to fizzle out until a few days ago.’
In a bizarre twist, Mr Klein added: ‘I was so worried about retaliation that I did not get out of my car when I was watching to see who turned up to the film.
‘I have gray hair and a big grey moustache so I dyed them both black and wore sunglasses so nobody would recognise me. I was worried somebody would turn up who knew who I was.’
There has been speculation that Bacile may in fact be Morris Sadek, a Coptic lawyer who has strong anti-Islamic views and fled Egypt in 1969. Last year, he was stripped of Egyptian citizenship after he called on the US to intervene in the country to protect its Christians.
Sadek said he was promoting the video on his website and on certain TV stations, which he did not identify.
Asked if he felt sorry about the deaths, Sadek said: ‘Of course, of course, of course. Thought should be answered by thought,’ adding that he did not think the film was offensive to Islam.
Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location on Tuesday, ‘Bacile’ remained defiant, saying he intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.
‘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.’
‘Islam is a cancer, period,’ he said repeatedly, his solemn voice thickly accented.
Attack: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in reaction to the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya on Wednesday. She swore him into office as the ambassador just a few months ago
The film depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage.
Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insult the prophet.
A Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet triggered riots in many Muslim countries.
U.S. pastor Terry Jones, who had inflamed anger in the Muslim world in 2010 with plans to burn the Koran, said he had also promoted ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
On his website yesterday he stated: ‘Tonight after International Judge Mohammad Day we will be showing the Mohammad Movie Trailer, a video promoting the movie, Innocence of Muslims.
‘It is an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam. The movie further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad.’
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, asked Jones to withdraw his support of the anti-Muslim film on Wednesday.
He called the pastor to express his concerns about the film, saying it could inflame tensions and trigger violence – but Dempsey’s spokesperson did not say whether Jones agreed to limit his support