Anti-Muslim film consultant says he's not responsible for violence
A consultant who worked on the anti-Islam film that has sparked outrage in the Middle East and led to the death of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans said he did not expect violence and doesn't "give a darn" if Muslims find it offensive.
Steve Klein, a Hemet insurance agent, compared himself to an unsophisticated James Bond" who ferrets out terrorist cells in California and Muslims who sympathize with terrorists.
He said he served as a consultant and fact-checker for the movie "Innocence of Muslims."
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other government employees were killed Tuesday in an attack by a group of armed men on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. According to the American Islamic Council, the film depicted Muhammad in a “very sexual, very demeaning way” which ultimately incited a “mob to act.”
The filmmaker and funders of the movie are all United States citizens, including naturalized Christians from the Middle East, Klein said. He said the controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has sponsored numerous Koran burnings, is "absolutely not involved" and "had nothing to do with it."
"When we originally did this, the movie was only supposed to show in Hollywood," Klein said. "We were after a very small, particular crocodile. I did what I did. I was going after a small group of specific people .… I did not expect violence."
He said he did not "give a darn" if it offended Muslims.
The intent of the film, he said, was to help identify people who sympathized with Osama bin Laden and terrorists.
"I am not responsible for the actions that they go out and do," Klein said. "Why would I be bothered? I told the truth. I have told the truth. I will continue to tell the truth."
A man who identified himself as Sam Basile has taken credit for the film in interviews with the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal. Basile is a pseudonym, Klein said.
Klein said he spoke with Basile on Wednesday afternoon and Basile was "very disappointed that the Muslims would go out and murder someone."
He declined to identify Basile, but said he is a man in his 50s and a "Christian."
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a lengthy file on Klein, who has been active in anti-Muslim and extremist groups for decades.
According to the center, in 1977 Klein founded Courageous Christians United, which has staged protests outside mosques and abortion clinics. In 2007 he sued the city of San Clemente after it ordered him to stop planting anti-illegal immigration fliers on cars.
More recently, Klein has headed up a group called Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which last year launched a campaign of distributing fliers at high schools, many of them "depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed pedophile," according to the center.
For the last couple of years, Klein has hosted a weekly program on an Arabic Christian outlet called The Way TV. An office manager at the station said the channel -- broadcast in the U.S., Canada and the Middle East -- focuses mainly on spreading Christianity, but that Klein's program was focused on criticizing Islam.
-- Phil Willon in Hemet