Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the shadowy figure behind a provocative anti-Islam film — the trailer of which led to violence in parts of Asia and North Africa — has been arrested. However, his detainment has nothing to do with the film.
The California-based man who is said to have made Innocence of Muslims — apparently an Egyptian Coptic Christian also known by names such as “Sam Bacile”, “Mark Basseley” and “Mark Basseley Youseff” — was this week declared a flight risk and detained by a federal Judge Suzanne Segal.
Primary among the charges Nakoula faces is violation of probation from a 2010 cheque fraud conviction, officials said. “The court has a lack of trust in this defendant at this time,” the judge noted; and “[h]e has every incentive to disappear,” added the prosecutor.
Following the trailer being uploaded on YouTube, violent protests broke out in parts of North Africa, including Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya. In particular, an assault by heavily-armed gunmen targeting the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi led to the death of Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador.
The Obama administration was quick to distance itself from the film and condemn the provocation as “reprehensible” and “disgusting.” However senior U.S. officials also argued that the attack in Libya was less associated with the film than it was a premeditated action linked to terrorist elements connected with al-Qaeda.
The U.S. court has ordered Nakoula to “remain in prison without bond until another judge can hold a hearing to determine if he broke the terms of his probation.” In doing so the judge also cited a “lengthy pattern of deception and the potential to flee.”
According to reports, Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in prison following conviction in 2010 and banned from using computers or accessing the Internet for five years without approval from probation officers.
While the latest allegations against him were not said to involve his use of the Internet, it was noted that prior rulings required further that he abstain from using any name other than his true legal name without the written approval.