Imprisoned ‘Innocence of Muslims’ producer Nakoula Nakoula: ‘I want the world to see the truth’
In an exclusive interview following his supervised release from prison, the filmmaker behind “Innocence of Muslims” told The Daily Caller that he “has no regrets” and promises more films and books about Islam.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is the only person who has been imprisoned in the aftermath of the organized Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed. He was wholly unconnected to the attack and was imprisoned on technical probation violations.
“The first reason I am writing this book is to tell the world we never forget our heroes and the second reason is to tell [everyone] that I’m not afraid,” Nakoula writes in a foreword obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller.
“I want the world to see the truth,” Nakoula told TheDC over the phone.
The interview was arranged after multiple letters to his former prison in El Paso, Texas. Nakoula is currently targeted with assassination from several Muslim clerics, including the head of Hezbollah, who have put fatwas on his head. He spoke from an undisclosed location in Southern California.
Nakoula is upset that his film has been blamed for causing the Benghazi terrorist attack. His book is dedicated to both the victims of Benghazi and of terrorism around the world.
“Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty and to every son who has lost his father, every mother or father who has their son, every person all over the world [who] lost his life or [was] injured because of the terrorism culture,” Nakoula writes in his foreword. “I would like to tell you you’re not forgotten.”
Nakoula, who had prior felony convictions on drug and bank fraud charges, was on probation when he made the trailer. Following the Benghazi debacle, the Obama administration claimed the film had incited the attack, and Nakoula was arrested and returned to prison for violating probation terms that prohibited him from using an alias (he had gone by “Sam Bacile” in making the film) or using the Internet without prior approval.
The U.S. State Department and the White House, which characterize the amateur video as “hate speech” or “Islamophobic” have pressured Google to remove the trailer for Nakoula’s film.
Nakoula hopes to complete the film and has made storyboards of other scenes that he hopes to include, showing Mohammed on jihad and engaging in sex acts — all based, he told TheDC, on Islamic books and evidence from the time period.
The clip generated plenty of fury even without threats from Islamists and denunciation from the State Department. Many cast and crew members have claimed they were misled by Nakoula during the production.
Nakoula did not want to respond to specific allegations, but pointed out that directors and filmmakers always have final creative control on the material.
He also disputed characterizations of his film as anti-Muslim. He says it is against the terrorism culture so often expressed in the Islamic world.
The film is “more political than religious,” he explained. Nakoula claimed to draw on more than “a thousand books written by Islamic scholars and a lifelong study” of Islam in Egypt to make each scene.
“I have many Muslim friends,” Nakoula told TheDC. “They do not believe in terrorism culture like many others. We have to keep fighting against this culture to protect our future generations and our civilization. This war does not use weapons but minds. … I am talking about how much the world will suffer because of this culture if we do not stop it as soon as possible.”
Nakoula described himself as “proud” for having written his script, which he is now turning into a book.
“If I could go back I would do it again. I would love to see this world free of this culture. I need your support. I am hoping the person who believes in death culture watches my movie or reads my book.”
The person “who believes in this culture” believes the only way he can go to paradise is by “bombing himself inside innocent people,” he said.
“It does not matter old or young, children or adults. He wants to get killed and go directly to river of milk, river of honey, river of wine and 72 virgin women,” Nakoula writes in his foreword. “This makes me believe the guys that did 9/11 were in a hurry to go to heaven more than hitting the U.S.A.”
The book is still being written with the help of his son, Nakoula told TheDC. Nakoula lacks an agent and has begun shopping it around to publishers himself. He may publish it as an e-book.
Nakoula believes future terrorist attacks could be stopped if Muslim fanatics read his book or watch his movie.
“I wish that [Army Maj. Nidal] Hasan, before he killed  American soldiers [and one civilian] at an American base, watched my movie or read my book. Maybe our soldiers’ lives would be saved. I wish the Boston bomber [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] would have watched my movie or read my book also.”
Nakoula, who is a Coptic Christian, also opposes the double standard that is tolerant of Islam but not Christianity.
“We can see mosques everywhere all over the world but we can’t see churches in Saudi Arabia,” he wrote. “[The Muslims] are saying it is holy land. I say also New York is a holy land. [Almost] 3,000 Americans get killed on this land. [Muslims] want to build an Islamic center on Ground Zero, no problem. But they won’t let us build churches in Saudi Arabia. They even burn down the churches in other Islamic countries, like Egypt.”
Much of Nakoula’s understanding of Islam was formed as a boy growing up in Egypt.
“I love U.S.A. as my wife and I love Egypt as my mom,” he writes, turning to his native Egypt where Christian Egyptians are second-class citizens. “Fourteen hundred years ago the Arabians attacked Egypt and in the invasion they gave the Egyptians three choices: convert to Islam, pay extortion, get killed. The poor Egyptians converted to Islam because they were poor in faith and money. The middle class of Egyptians get killed but the rich Egyptians paid the extortion.”
Nakoula gave repeated instances of Egyptian Christians who have been killed or attacked by Muslims in Egypt. Persecution of Copts has accelerated since the 2011 “Arab spring.”
In November 2012, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he wanted to portray “the actual truth” about Muhammad. “I thought, before I wrote this script,” he said, “that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in.”
Charles Woods, the father of Navy SEAL killed in Benghazi, told Glenn Beck in October that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told him the Administration “will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
American authorities were not the only ones who went after Nakoula. A court in Cairo tried and sentenced Nakoula and six other Egyptian Christians to death for participating in the filming of his movie. The court said the filmmakers insulted “the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet.”
Nakoula has not yet been officially released from prison. He is in a halfway house where he is allowed to leave the facility for a few hours a day but remains in federal custody. The federal authorities have promised to release him in September or earlier, according to Nakoula.
He described prison life as “lonely and depressing” and thanked the prison guards for protecting him, but he declined to describe his prison experience.
President Obama last month began describing Benghazi as one of a number of “phony scandals” currently engulfing his administration. On Thursday CNN reported that the CIA had 21 or more agents in the embassy compound during the attack and is engaged in an “unprecedented” effort to conceal details of the incident.
Former Green Beret Jack Murphy, bestselling co-author of “Benghazi: The Definitive Report,” has identified John O. Brennan, the then-chief counterterrorism adviser to the president, as the source of the decision to blame Nakoula’s video for the terrorist attack on Benghazi. When asked about Brennan on Twitter, Murphy described him as “Obama’s propaganda minister,” who “knows how to work disinformation very well,” and said he was “behind both the OBL leaks and the YouTube video as the motive behind the Benghazi disinfo.” Asked how he knew that, Murphy demurred, saying, “I didn’t find it in the NYC public library, that’s for sure.”
Brennan, who told the Islamic Society of North America, “I don’t use the term jihadist to refer to terrorists” and extemporized in English and Arabic about the beauty of Islam in a speech to the Islamic Society of New York, is now director of the CIA. In his 1980 graduate thesis at the University of Texas at Austin, Brennan denied the existence of “absolute human rights” and argued in favor of censorship on the part of the Egyptian dictatorship.
“Since the press can play such an influential role in determining the perceptions of the masses, I am in favor of some degree of government censorship,” Brennan wrote. “Inflamatory [sic] articles can provoke mass opposition and possible violence, especially in developing political systems.”
Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney from the Lawfare Project, sees Brennan’s pro-censorship views as part of a wider campaign of suppression of speech critical of Islam.
“The lengths this administration has gone to subjugate public dialogue and constitutionally protected speech on the very real and imminent threat of militant Islam, is astounding,” Goldstein told TheDC.
Goldstein is especially critical of U.S. officials, who “were paraded one by one in front of the world to act as film critics, proliferating the ridiculous lie that one U.S. resident’s constitutionally protected expression was somehow the but-for cause of murder thousands of miles away.”
She cites several examples, including the U.S. Embassy in Cairo’s press release curiously condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” as well as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s description of Nakoula’s film as “disgusting and reprehensible.”
Corrections: Jack Murphy is a former Green Beret.
An earlier version of this article misstated Nakoula’s legal representation. Steven A. Seiden of Los Angeles, California, is Nakoula’s attorney of record in the federal criminal case and still represents Nakoula for all of his criminal matters.