There remains much mystery surrounding the amateurish “Muhammad” movie trailer that sparked rage in Libya and Egypt and led to the deaths of four American diplomats.
The 14-minute video, called the "The Muhammad Movie Trailer,” is an unsubtle attack on Islam’s founder, featuring cartoonish acting and cheap props.
Before its now 300,000 views on YouTube, it was a barely-watched clip on the Internet.
Its creator, who identifies himself as Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from California, told the Wall Street Journal that he was an Israeli-American who had created the film with the backing of Jewish donors and described Islam as a "cancer."
The man seemed to disappear after the interview and the Journal could not get ahold of him again. The Journal reported that a records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials also came up empty, leaving his true identity in doubt as well as claims he made about the clip being a trailer for a longer film and that it was funded with $5 million from Jewish donors.
According to the Journal, the clip's blunt criticisms of Islam and Muhammad were inserted after filming. This suggests that the actors in the film didn’t know what it was actually about.
"We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose," crew members said in a statement to CNN. "We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."
The Journal reported that an expired casting notice actors for a "historical Arabian Desert adventure film," called "Desert Warrior was posted on the Backstage.com database. The producer was named as "Sam Bassiel."
The film reached a wider audience when Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Coptic activist living in the Washington, D.C., area, emailed journalists on Sept. 6 promoting a Sept. 11 event being held by Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who previously sparked deadly protests by burning a copy of the Quran, according to the Journal.
The email featured a link to the YouTube clip of the trailer. Egyptian journalists picked up on it and broadcast it on TV, leading to outrage and a call for protests at the American embassy in Cairo.
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