Wed., September 12, 2012 12:30pm (EDT)

What We Know About Sam Bacile, The Man Behind The Muhammad Movie
By Eyder Peralta
Updated: 2 years ago

A trailer for the film "Innocence of Muslims" was uploaded to YouTube in early July.
A trailer for the film "Innocence of Muslims" was uploaded to YouTube in early July.
Most Americans knew nothing about "Innocence of Muslims." That's the film that has set the Muslim world on fire, causing protests in Egypt and Libya that led to the death of the U.S. envoy to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

The bottom line is that we know very little about Sam Bacile, the man who produced the film. But The Wall Street Journal caught up with Bacile before he went into hiding.

According to the Journal, Bacile raised "$5 million from 100 Jewish donors" and he produced the film using 60 actors and 45 crew members.

Bacile told the Journal that he made the film to expose "Islam as a hateful religion."

"Islam is a cancer," he told the paper. "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."

In another interview, Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a real estate developer and an Israeli Jew, but Israeli authorities told the wire service they have no records of him being a citizen.

Our library did not turn up any footprint for Bacile. They turned no property, phone, licenses nor court records. And Bacile had not made news until today.

Bacile repeated what he told the Journal to the AP.

"The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're fighting with ideas," he said. From the AP story, it's also clear that Bacile knew this film would be controversial and perhaps even incite violence.

"You're going to be the next Theo van Gogh," Steve Klein, a consultant on the film told the AP he told Bacile. Van Goh, the AP explains, was the Dutch filmmaker who was killed after making a movie perceived as insulting to Islam.

"Innocence of Muslims" is a feature-length film. In early July, one "Sam Bacile" posted 14-minute trailer of the film on YouTube. The preview portrays Muhammad as an imbecile and as a false prophet. (We won't embed the trailer, here, because it contains some scenes not suitable for work.)

For Muslims its offensive to simply depict the prophet. To insult him is a whole other story.

Bacile told the AP that he was sorry for the death of Ambassador Stevens, but he blamed his death on the security system.

"I feel the security system (at the embassies) is no good," Bacile said. "America should do something to change it."

When clips of the film were shown on an Egyptian TV program, they described it as being the work of Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who has burned Qurans. Jones, The Wall Street Journal reports, was merely promoting the film, saying he would screen the trailer at his church on Sept. 11.

"The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Muhammad that are possibly not widely known," Jones said in a statement obtained by The Orlando Sentinel.


Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.