17 September 2012, 13:07

Who created the anti-Muslim film?

Who created the anti-Muslim film?
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We’re getting new details about the group of men who put together the anti-Muslim film that has generated so much anger. Turns out, they’re all based in Southern California. And it looks like they’ve all gone into hiding. Joining us to talk about this is our west coast correspondent Kevin Tripp.

We understand three men were the main players behind this film. What do we know about them?

The first man is the gentleman we were discussing yesterday. His name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. He is a Coptic Christian here, in the Los Angeles area, and he is also a convicted felon. He was convicted of multiple bank fraud counts and he served 21 months in prison, just being released a little over a year ago. And the film was shot apparently at a small charity called Media for Christ. Media for Christ is also apparently based in the Los Angeles area. It is run by a man called Joseph Nasrallah Abdelmasih. Those two men were involved in the production of the film, although their exact status in the film is of some dispute and they’ve both gone into hiding. They are not very well-known to people like the Southern Property Law Center or the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But the third man is well known. His name is Steve Klein. He is an anti-Islamic activist, who has for years publicly condemned Islam, and he actually hosts a show in this Media for Christ charity’s satellite network, which is called The Way TV. He was one of the first people interviewed in the aftermath of the film. Some people saw him on TV. He has a large grey handlebar moustache. He has now also apparently gone into hiding, also he was very vocal in the first couple of days about his affiliation with this film and how he was proud of what they were able to do. He was interviewed as recently as yesterday by the NBC affiliate here, in Los Angeles and suffices to say he was literally driving away in his car as they were trying to interview him – he is no longer interested in being in the public spotlight.

Is there any sign they could be in legal trouble for this?

There is an indication that the first man, the man we have been talking for a couple of days now, Mr. Nakoula, could be in trouble, because, as I mentioned, he is someone who has recently been convicted of bank fraud. He’s also been convicted over the last 15 years or so of some drug offenses. He is on wither probation or parole, I believe parole, after his release from prison, and one of the conditions for his parole is that he cannot access the internet or have other people access it for him, except for his work purposes. And it appears that he in fact did do that. He uploaded this video or at least did significant interactions on the internet, which is maybe why the Department of Justice is launching an investigation right now. He may be in legal trouble. He still has his first amendment rights but apparently he may have violated the conditions of his parole.

What are neighbors saying in their community, because people have been staked out in front of one guy’s house for a couple of days now?

Yes, that’s correct. Mr. Nakoula, the gentleman we’ve been talking about for the last minute. Media still stake outside his house. He’s not been seen yet. Neighbors are at once surprised but also outraged and disgusted. They are as bothered by this video as anyone, and the fact that it’s happening in their neighborhood is very concerning because, obviously, all of a sudden the world’s attention is on their little quiet neighborhood and they are watching what’s happening in the Middle East, thinking: Good God, we hope that doesn’t come down our street! But so far there’s been no trouble. The police have a pretty visible presence and it doesn’t appear that there is going to be any trouble, at least for now, in this town, which is in Orange County, just adjacent to Los Angeles

We will also be watching how this unfolds.

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