Posted by News Express, Lagos | 14 September 2012 | 8,114 times
Three days after the outbreak of protests over Innocent Muslims, the controversial film that portrayed Prophet Muhammad in bad light, the mystery that surrounded the key figure behind production of the movie is finally being solved.
As it turns out, the culprit is a southern California man once convicted of financial crimes, according to United States authorities.
A US federal law enforcement official yesterday disclosed that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was the man behind the vexatious film that showed Prophet Muhammad as a fraudulent person and a womanizer, even depicting him having sex. The trailer of the yet-to-be-released movie has sparked protests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, claiming the lives of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other diplomats during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi.
An Associated Press (AP) report quoted the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss an ongoing investigation, as saying that Nakoula is connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a figure who initially claimed to be the writer and director of the film. “Bacile,” according to AP, “quickly turned out to a false identity and the Associated Press traced a cellphone number used by Bacile to a southern California house where Nakoula was found.”
The news agency said that investigators had unearthed US federal court papers filed against Nakoula in a 2010 criminal prosecution which showed that he had used numerous aliases in the past. Among the fake names, the documents said, were Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily and Erwin Salameh, all similar to the Sam Bacile persona. Other aliases described in the documents included Ahmad Hamdy, Kritbag Difrat and PJ Tobacco.
“Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer,” AP reported.
“Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Leigh Williams said Nakoula set up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers; then, checks from those accounts would be deposited into other bogus accounts from which Nakoula would withdraw money at ATM machines,” the news agency added.
It said that “prior to his bank fraud conviction, Nakoula struggled with a series of financial problems in recent years, according to California state tax and bankruptcy records. In June 2006, a $191,000 tax lien was filed against him in the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds office. In 1997, a $106,000 lien was filed against him in Orange County.”
Nakoula is expected to be taken into custody soonest.
*Photo, courtesy shawsblog2011.blogspot.com, shows angry Muslims demonstrating over the film at the US Embassy in Yemen . . . yesterday.
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