Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Man behind anti-Islam film jailed

08 November 2012, 12:18

Los Angeles - The convicted California scam artist behind a crude anti-Islam film that stoked protests against the United States across the Muslim world was sent back to jail for a year on Wednesday over probation violations stemming from his role in the video.

In a tightly guarded federal courtroom in Los Angeles, Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to using aliases and lying to his probation officer, breaching the terms of his supervised release from prison this year after serving time for bank fraud.

Youssef, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian and former gasoline station owner identified in some public records by his birth name, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has been in protective custody since his arrest in September, his lawyer said.

At least one violation Youssef acknowledged involved his using the alias Sam Bacile, a name several actors and others from the film said he had used in producing the internet video. It was circulated under several titles, including Innocence of Muslims.

In addition to a year in jail, US District Judge Christina Snyder ordered Youssef placed on four years of supervised release once he got out.

The 13-minute clip attributed to Youssef, aged 55, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were duped into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called Desert Warrior.

Law suit

After the fact, actors said they learned that some of their lines spoken in the production had been dubbed over.

At least one actress has sued Youssef, claiming her image and reputation were harmed and her safety was put in jeopardy, citing a religious edict she said an Egyptian cleric had issued against anyone connected with the movie.

Assistant US Attorney Robert Dugdale said some cast members have received death threats and feared for their lives.

The film touched off a torrent of anti-American unrest in Arab and Muslim countries. The start of the violence on 11 September coincided with an attack on US diplomatic facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya.

US and other foreign embassies were also stormed in various cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous.

Defence lawyer Steven Seiden told reporters after Wednesday's hearing that the government was using its probation case to punish Youssef for making the film, thus chilling his client's constitutional rights to freedom of expression.


"This hearing had everything to do with the movie," he said.

Dugdale said in court that Youssef was not being prosecuted for the content of his film but because "the way he made this movie, he did defraud people", in part by operating under an assumed identity.

Youssef appeared in court in a white jumpsuit, his hands shackled to his waist. He said little, and an Arabic translator was used to communicate with him.

While in protective custody since his arrest, Youssef has remained essentially isolated and unable to see his relatives, except for brief glimpses he can catch in courtrooms, Seiden said.

The defence lawyer also told reporters his client wrote the script for the video and may have served as a "cultural consultant" on the video, but does not own rights to it.

Youssef previously was convicted of fraudulently obtaining 641 credit and debit cards and 60 bank accounts, defrauding banks of $800 000, Dugdale said.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...