Public face of anti-Muslim film: Vietnam vet, insurance agent with outspoken views on Islam

HEMET, Calif. — The public face for the anti-Muslim film inflaming the Middle East is not the filmmaker, but an insurance agent and Vietnam War veteran whose unabashed and outspoken hatred of radical Muslims has drawn the attention of civil libertarians, who say he’s a hate monger.

Nakoula, the filmmaker, contacted Klein months ago for advice about the limits of American free speech and asked for help vetting the movie’s script, Klein said in an interview with The Associated Press.  As the role dovetailed with Klein’s relentless pursuit of radical Muslims in America, an activity he says he began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It took on more meaning in 2007, when his son, then a 27-year-old Army staff sergeant, was seriously injured in Iraq. Matthew Klein, a medic, was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered in the attack by a suicide bomber, according to the Army Human Resources Command.

He claimed to have visited “every mosque in California” and identified “500 to 750 of these people who are future suicide bombers and murderers.”

“Those are the guys I’m looking for. I’m not interested in mom and pop running a pizza store or running a smoky shop, a hookah shop,” he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says they have been tracking Klein for several years and have labeled two of the organizations he is affiliated with as hate groups.

Klein founded Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques, and started Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which preaches against Muslims and publishes volumes of anti-Muslim propaganda that Klein distributes. He also has helped train paramilitary militias at the church of Kaweah near Three Rivers, about an hour southeast of Fresno, to prepare for what they believe is a coming holy war with Muslim sleeper cells, according to the law center.

New details emerge of anti-Islam film’s mystery producer

The spotlight in the search for the creators of an incendiary video mocking Islam that set off a wave of anti-American violence in the Middle East shifted Thursday to a shadowy gas station owner with a record of criminal arrests and bankruptcy, who associates said expressed anti-Muslim sentiments as he pushed for the making of the film.

 

CNN initially reported that the man behind the “Innocence of Muslims” movie is likely not an “Israeli real estate developer” by the name of Sam Bacile, but instead as some speculated an Egyptian Copt by the name Abenob Nakoula Bassely.  There are still doubts about who Bacile actually is and as Israel has no knowledge of a citizen by the name of Sam Bacile.

At the heart of the mystery was the filmmaker himself, a man identified in the casting call as Sam Bassiel, on the call sheet as Sam Bassil and reported at first by news outlets as Sam Bacile.

But federal officials consider that man to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud.

 

In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker characterized his movie, now called “Innocence of Muslims,” as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.”

“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” they said in a statement.

 

The filmmaker told the Wall Street Journal Jewish donors contributed $5 million to make the film. Based on the trailer, however, the amateurish movie appears to have been produced on a low budget.

Anti-Muslim activist Steve Klein, who said he was a script consultant for the movie, said the filmmaker told him his idea was to make a film that would reveal “facts, evidence and proof” about the Prophet Mohammed to people he perceived as radical Muslims.

Klein said the movie was called “Innocence of Bin Laden.”

Klein is known in Southern California for his vocal opposition to the construction of a mosque in Temecula, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2010. He heads up Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, a group that contends Islam is a threat to American freedom.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones to ask him to withdraw his support for the film, said Col. David Lapan, Dempsey’s spokesman.

Leaders of the Coptic Church in the United States, after a fringe figure claiming to be a Coptic leader was linked Wednesday to promoting the film, forcefully denounced the video and denied any connection to the activists who promoted the trailer. They said they learned of the film only with news of the protests.

Dutch politician retracts statements critical of Islam

The leader of the small Christian SGP party in the Netherlands, E. Klein, has taken back critical statements on Islam made during a meeting on freedom of education.

Klein declared that he would rather see no mosques, and that “Islam has produced nothing good so far”. Under pressure from local conservative (VVD) and center-left (D66) parties Klein has retracted the statement, announcing during a meeting of the provincial council that he “wholeheartedly takes back” his words.

Clashes hit German anti-Islam rally

Scuffles have broken out after about 1,600 people demonstrated against a rally held by a group opposing the building of a mosque in the German city of Cologne. The rally, held by Pro Koeln, a right-wing group, led to violence after left-wing demonstrators demanded entry to it on Saturday, saying it had been described as a public event. Wolfgang Baldes, a police spokesman, said: “There were minor scuffles. “We’ve not allowed some of the protesters to get into the square … police intervened and secured a distance. “We have more than 5,000 policemen here for the weekend, we are well prepared.” ‘Racism and agitation’ The counter-demonstration by hundreds of left-wing protesters, members of church groups, trade unions and the Green party came after about 200 people turned out for the Pro Klein rally. “Today we’re sending a signal that democrats stand united against right-wing radicalism, racism and agitation,” Reinhard Bütikofer, the former head of the Green party, said.

Head of City’s Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure

The principal of New York City’s first public school dedicated to the study of Arabic language and culture resigned under pressure yesterday, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word intifada as a T-shirt slogan. Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, stepped down as the principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that is to open this fall in Brooklyn. This morning I tendered my resignation to Chancellor Klein, which he accepted, she said in a statement, referring to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. I became convinced yesterday that this week’s headlines were endangering the viability of Khalil Gibran International Academy, even though I apologized. Those headlines had become impossible for Ms. Almontaser and the Department of Education to ignore. On Wednesday, a headline in The New York Post called Ms. Almontaser the Intifada Principal. Yesterday, an editorial in the paper had the headline, What’s Arabic for _Shut It Down’?