U.S. ambassador killed; California man behind anti-Islam film hides
An Israeli filmmaker based in California who made a movie belittling Islam’s prophet Muhammad that has ignited Middle East riots and led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya says he is in hiding.
Sam Bacile, 56, who described himself as an “Israeli Jew” who develops real estate in California, told the Associated Press by phone that he went into hiding Tuesday after assaults by conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya.
In the Tuesday night attack on a consulate in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, along with three other Americans.
Stevens, 52, a career diplomat named as ambassador to Libya in May, had traveled to Benghazi from Tripoli for a commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States when the consulate came under attack, according to wire reports.
The attack on the consulate was believed to be related to a trailer for Bacile’s two-hour film “Innocence of Muslims” that was posted on YouTube and enraged conservative Muslims for its claims, among other things, that Muhammad approved of child molestation, and its depiction of Muslims as terrorist thugs.
Bacile told the Associated Press he made the film for $5 million, raised among private donors. The trailer depicts scenes with amateur actors reciting stiff dialogue about the sins of Muhammad, according to the AP. "Islam is a cancer, period," Bacile said.Though Bacile was apologetic about the loss of life as a result of the outrage over his film, he blamed lax embassy security and the perpetrators of the violence.
"I feel the security system [at the embassies] is no good," Bacile told the AP. "America should do something to change it."
A consultant on the film, Steve Klein, told the news service that the filmmaker was concerned for family members who live in Egypt. Bacile declined to confirm that.
Klein said he helped Bacile make the movie but warned him that "you're going to be the next Theo van Gogh." Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam.
"We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen," Klein said.
-- Sam Quinones