Key figure behind anti-Muslim movie arrested for probation violations

(JTA) — An Egyptian Christian man who police say is one of the key figures behind the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” was arrested.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was arrested Sept. 27 in Los Angeles for violating his probation in a 2010 check-kiting case. He was charged with eight probation violations, including lying to police when he was detained questioning, according to the New York Times. He was ordered held without bail during a hearing in United States District Court in Los Angeles, after being called a flight risk. A  probation-revocation hearing reportedly will be scheduled.

Nakoula who is believed to have uploaded the 14-minute movie trailer, translated into Arabic, to YouTube is not allowed to use the Internet without permission from his probation officer. He had been detained for questioning over the video earlier in the month.

The trailer for the crudely produced film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad caused an outbreak of violence at U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and throughout the world. Four American diplomats died in the violence.

In the wake of the initial violence, two media outlets interviewed a California man who gave his name as Sam Bacile and reportedly said he had produced, directed and written “Innocence of Muslims.” But his claims quickly came under scrutiny and were found to be untrue.

Members of the film’s cast, who said they were misled about its true message, said the film’s producer was Egyptian.

In 2010, Nakoula pleaded no contest to federal bank fraud charges and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, the AP reported. The report cited federal court papers saying that Nakoula had used the name Nicola Bacily, among other aliases.

Click here for complete coverage on the 2012 elections from JTA.

Click to write a letter to the editor.