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Suspected anti-Islam filmmaker questioned by federal probation officers in Cerritos

The Cerritos home owned by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is linked to an anti-Islamic film that inflamed protests in the Middle East.
September 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man linked to an anti-Islamic film that inflamed protests across the Middle East was interviewed by federal probation officers on Saturday, authorities said.

Federal officials were investigating whether Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who has been convicted of financial crimes, has violated the terms of his five-year probation. If so, a judge could send him back to prison.

Wearing a long coat, hat, towel and glasses to conceal his appearance, Nakoula was escorted by at least five deputies into the back of car just after midnight. He was interviewed for about half an hour at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station in his hometown of Cerritos. After that, deputies dropped Nakoula off at an undisclosed location. Officials said Nakoula was not handcuffed and the concealing apparel was his idea.

The probation department is reviewing the case of Nakoula, who pleaded no contest to bank fraud charges in 2010 and was banned from using computers or the Internet or using false identities as part of his sentence.

Details about the interview were not disclosed.

Federal authorities identified Nakoula, a self-described Coptic Christian, as the key figure behind "Innocence of Muslims," a film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East.

Much of the film was shot inside the offices of Media for Christ, a nonprofit based in Duarte, a small city just east of Arcadia. The charity raised more than $1 million last year "to glow Jesus' light" to the world.

The Hemet man who was a script adviser to the film and who has a long history of anti-Islamic activism told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that he has received multiple death threats.

Officials say there are no threats of danger in the neighborhood that Nakoula lives in.

Nakoula's low-budget movie has triggered outrage for its portrayal of the prophet Muhammad in a negative light. There have been violent protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen after a short clip of the movie was posted on YouTube. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Libya during the Wednesday attack. Their bodies returned to American soil on Friday, and a solemn ceremony was held in their honor at Andrews Air Force Base.

Al Qaeda's most active branch in the Middle East called for more attacks on U.S. embassies Saturday to "set the fires blazing," seeking to co-opt outrage over an anti-Muslim film even as the wave of protests that swept 20 countries this week eased.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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