Feds Arrest Producer Of Controversial Anti-Islam Film On Probation Violation Charge
The producer of the controversial anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” has been arrested for violating terms of his probation and is set for an appearance today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, is scheduled for an initial appearance in the courthouse where Judge Christina Snyder sentenced him in June 2010 following a bank fraud conviction.
[UPDATE: Citing Nakoula’s “lengthy pattern of deception,” a federal magistrate this afternoon ordered him held without bond for alleged probation violations, including making false statements to his probation officer and using aliases. The judge rejected a plea from Nakoula’s lawyer, who argued that the convicted felon’s life would be in danger at an L.A. lockup due to the facility's large population of Muslim inmates. Nakoula will remain in custody in advance of a probation revocation hearing, the date for which has yet to be scheduled.]
Investigators have not yet provided details about how Nakoula allegedly violated probation, but it seems clear that his involvement in the “Innocence of Muslim” production is central to the government's new charge.
Nakoula (seen above) was sentenced to 21 months in prison to be followed by six months in a halfway house. Upon completion of the custodial term, he was placed on probation for five years.
Included in his probation terms were prohibitions on his use of the Internet, unless he secured prior approval from his probation officer. Additionally, he was not to “use, for any purpose or in any manner, any name other than his/her true legal name or names without the prior written approval of the Probation Officer.”
While producing “Innocence of Muslims,” Nakoula repeatedly used the alias “Sam Bacile” (and other variants) in communications, online postings, and dealings with cast and crew working on the film.
As TSG reported earlier this month, Nakoula began cooperating with federal investigators following his arrest in the check-kiting scheme (during which he used a variety of aliases). In return for Nakoula’s cooperation, Department of Justice prosecutors provided Judge Snyder with a letter noting that his substantial assistance to authorities warranted a sentence reduction.
At his sentencing, Nakoula said, “I decided to cooperate with the government to retrieve some of these mistakes or damage happened. I want to cooperate with the government that they can catch with this other criminals who is their involvement.”
Snyder’s eventual sentence was about a year less than the punishment sought by probation officials and federal prosecutors.
According to the transcript of Nakoula’s sentencing, his lawyer provided Snyder with a character letter from a “Mr. Henanin,” who “knows the defendant on a personal basis, goes to church with him.” Attorney James Henderson added that “Henanin” described Nakoula as “a God-fearing man whose first priority is his family.”
The mention of “Mr. Henanin” is likely a reference to Zakaria Botros Henein, a radical Coptic cleric whose followers in southern California include Nakoula and two other men linked to “Innocence of Muslims.”
A September 16 Los Angeles Times story reported that Henein is “known around the globe for insults to the prophet Muhammad that are strikingly similar to those in the film.” The preacher, the Times added, is “sometimes called Islam's Public Enemy No. 1,” and has taught that “Muhammad was a necrophile, a homosexual, and a pedophile.”