The filmmaker who produced an incendiary anti-Muslim movie that stirred extremists Tuesday to storm the U.S. embassy in Egypt and may be linked to the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya has gone into hiding, as doubts rose as to his true identity.
Following yesterday’s riots, a California man calling himself Sam Bacile took credit for making the film “Innocence of the Muslims” and identified himself as an Israeli Jew in two news interviews. In an interview with the Associated Press, he called Islam “a cancer.”
But a search of public records and inconsistencies in Bacile’s own accounts, as well as information from a radical Christian who helped produced the movie all suggest that “Sam Bacile” is a pseudonym and is not Israeli but an Arab Christian.
“I’ve met him twice. He is not a citizen of Israel. He is in hiding,” Steve Klein, a member of a far-right anti-Islamic Christian group who says he helped with the film’s production, told ABC News.
Klein said Bacile was not Israeli or Jewish, and suggested he was an Arab Christian who was a U.S. citizen.
Three U.S. Christian groups, including two identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Council, and a third that advocates for Egyptian Christians, or Copts, have been linked to the production or eventual distribution of the movie.
The controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who in 2010 sparked riots in Afghanistan after burning copies of the Koran, told ABC News in that he had been contacted to help distribute the film.
Klein, a member of the Church of Kaweah, listed as an anti-Muslim hate group, said Bacile and the film’s other backers were “refugees from the Middle East.”
“The folks that I’m working with have come from a culture where they’ve been tracked down, driven from their homes. Close family members have been kidnapped, raped and murdered,” said Klein of the filmmaker.
Christians in much of the Middle East are persecuted and their plight has been made a cause for many American fundamentalist Christians.
Morris Sadek, head of the National American Coptic Assembly, an Egyptian Christian group based in the U.S., confirmed to Reuters that he was involved in the film’s planned distribution.
Clips of the low-budget movie, which portrays the prophet Mohammed as a fraud, pedophile and homosexual appeared on the YouTube page of a person identified as “Sam Bacile,” who also left a later YouTube comment in colloquial Egyptian Arabic.
“Islam is a cancer, period,” Sam Bacile told the Associated Press in an interview before he allegedly went into hiding.
In two back-to-back interviews, Bacile gave conflicting and inconsistent pieces of information to two news outlets.
In an interview with the AP, Bacile, said he was 56 years old, in another, with the Wall Street Journal, he said he was 52. According to his YouTube profile he is 75 years old.
In one interview “Bacile” called himself “an Israeli Jew,” in the other he called himself an “Israeli-American.” Klein had indicated in an interview that Bacile was concerned for relatives still in Egypt.
Searches of U.S. public records including civil and criminal court documents and real estate filings revealed no mention anyone with Bacile’s name.
There is no record of a Sam Bacile, or a similarly named person, having received a real estate license in California.
A 13-minute trailer for the video was posted in July and received little notice.
Last week the trailer was dubbed in Arabic. The video was quickly viewed tens of thousands of times, but more importantly it was aired and discussed by influential and radical Muslim preachers with large satellite television audiences.
Many of the protesters in Egypt had never seen the video, but said it sparked them to storm the U.S. embassy on the anniversary of Sept. 11.