Ignorance is vicious and can kill.
The violent murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues on Tuesday at the U.S. consulate Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, by a mob incensed by reports about a movie of unclear origin which has not yet been released is deeply disturbing and revolting.
UPDATE: It now appears [possibly even earlier than Oct-Nov 2012] that this initial report is untrue — as this report published on 10 November indicated: “The CIA ‘s reporting to Congress included a claim that protests over a YouTube video played a role in the attacks, thus allowing Obama to initially discount the possibility that the U.S. had suffered another terrorist attack just before the election”. This was published here.
UPDATE: U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told journalists at the regular daily briefing in Washington on Thursday, posted here, that: “we said that the circumstances surrounding the death of Ambassador Stevens included the fact that he and two other people – Sean Smith and a regional security officer – were in the main building in Benghazi when it was hit and caught on fire, but in – that the regional security officer attempted to lead the other two out, that he got separated from Ambassador Stevens, that he then got – but when he got to Sean Smith, he was already dead. He pulled him from the building. He went back into the building with additional security forces, but was unable to locate Ambassador Stevens before the fire overcame the building. We were then not able to locate Ambassador Stevens for many, many hours. We were later informed by some of our Libyan contacts that they understood he had been taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We were not able to confirm that, although there is a huge amount of reporting on it. And his body was later returned to us at the airport in Benghazi in the context of our evacuation of the rest of our people. So in response to Matt’s question, we don’t have any definitive information of our own as to exactly when he passed or what the precise causes of death were. I would guess that this is among the things that’ll become clearer as the Libyans work on their investigation with our support”.
About the film itself, Nuland said “I don’t want to get too much into this particular video, because it just gives it more credit than any of us want to. I think you heard the Secretary speak to this issue this morning and to make it clear that we absolutely reject both its message and its content, which we consider disgusting and reprehensible. She said it far better than I can here. The interesting thing about this, as I understand it, is that this had actually been circulating at a relatively low level for some months out there in cyberspace and that it only caught fire in the region on the day or just before the day that we began to see these various protests”.
For hours, nobody even knew what film had caused such a reaction.
AP this morning published a report here trying to identify those behind the film which caused this violence.
AP wrote this morning that:
“Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film. Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula’s aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others. Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film’s director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver’s license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona. The AP located Bacile after obtaining his cell phone number from Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who had promoted the anti-Muslim film in recent days on his website. Egypt’s Christian Coptic population has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country’s Arab majority … The YouTube account, ‘Sam Bacile’, which was used to publish excerpts of the provocative movie in July, was used to post comments online as recently as Tuesday, including this defense of the film written in Arabic: ‘It is a 100 percent American movie, you cows”…
UPDATE: Reuters here on 7 November that: “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. The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, who has been publicly identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, but whose legal name is Mark Basseley Youssef, admitted to several probation violations during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. At least one violation involved his use of an alias, Sam Bacile, a name that several actors from the film said he used in producing the video, which was circulated on line under several titles, including ‘The Innocence of Muslims’.”