The director of an anti-Islam film that helped sparked attacks on U.S. diplomatic faciltiies is not Israeli as he claimed, a consultant to the film said.
The Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg reported that a Steve Klein, a consultant to the controversial film, “Innocence of Muslims,” and a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, Calif., said that the film’s directo,r Sam Bacile, is not Israeli and that the name is a pseudonym.
Goldberg quoted Klein as saying: “I don’t know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He’s not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved.” Klein said: “His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he’s Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.”
Meanwhile, a high-ranking Israeli official in Los Angeles told JTA Wednesday that after numerous inquiries, it appeared that no one in the Hollywood film industry or in the local Israeli community knew of a Sam Bacile, the supposed director-writer of the incendiary film “Innocence of Muslims.”
The Los Angeles Jewish Journal also reported that individuals heavily involved in the Los Angeles real estate community had never heard of anyone named Bacile. There is no California real estate license issued in his name either, according to the Huffington Post.
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other American diplomats were killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and the U.S. embassy in Cairo was attacked Tuesday evening by angry protesters.
Amb. John Christopher Stevens and three unnamed diplomats were killed Tuesday night in a rocket attack on their car in Benghazi, the White House confirmed Wednesday morning. On Tuesday evening, Egyptian protesters climbed over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, pulled down an American flag and tried to set it alight.
The attacks follow the release online of an Arabic translation of the movie. Media reports said it was directed by Bacile, who described himself as a California real estate developer. The two-hour movie attacks the Islamic prophet Muhammad, making him out to be a fraud.
The film was screened one time at a movie theater in Hollywood, someone identifying himself as Bacile told the AP.
Bacile said went into hiding on Tuesday night, speaking to international media from an undisclosed location.
Klein told Goldberg that I there are some 15 people associated with the making of the film, all American citizens and most evangelicals.
Media bloggers and columnists are questioning why Bacile would claim the $5 million film was paid for by “100 Jewish donors,” calling it a set up. Media experts have called the film unprofessional and believe the $5 million figure is highly inflated.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack.
“The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation,” she said in a statement. “But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Shura Council are scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to condemn the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and attacks on diplomatic facilities and persons in Libya and Egypt.
In Washington, CAIR’s national officials called on Muslims in the Middle East “to ignore the trashy anti-Islam film that resulted in the attacks.”