Anti-Islam film mystery deepens

Flag of Egypt. What happened in Egypt is a metaphor for American policy failures in the Middle East.
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The anti-Islam film that, some say, started the Middle East riots puzzles everyone who talks about it. That film has shown once only, a year ago. Viewers can find only a 14-minute trailer and a 7-minute news segment on Egyptian TV. At first, no one knew the filmmaker’s real name. But word comes now that the filmmaker was a government snitch. So when Secretary of State Clinton says that the government had nothing to do with making the film, that might or might not be correct.

Anti-Islam film origin

The producer, that is, the financier, of the anti-Islam film is no stranger to creative financing. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (maybe also known as “Sam Bacile”) ran a check-kiting scheme in California. He stole about $800,000 through this scheme. Authorities caught him, and a jury convicted him. But he served only 21 months and paid back some, but not all, of what he stole. After that, the judge put him on probation and told him to stay off the Internet for five years.

Why did the judge let him off so lightly? Because he turned snitch. The Smoking Gun has an outline, and this link to a sentencing transcript. He said this to the judge, in Arabic:

I decided to cooperate with the government to retrieve some of these mistakes or damage happened. I want to cooperate with the government that they can catch with this other criminals who is their involvement.

Sometime after he got out of prison, he made the anti-Islam film. According to The Huffington Post, he deceived even the cast and crew of the film. They did not know they were making an anti-Islam film. Nor did the anti-Islam lines appear in their scripts. Instead, someone dubbed those lines later, and did not synchronize the dubbing with the actors’ lips. (View the film for yourselves.)

Much later, someone else (no one knows who) re-dubbed the film from English to Arabic. A TV station belonging to one of the ultra-religious parties in Egypt ran a segment on the dubbed version. The riots in Egypt started soon after.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has now said twice that the US government had “absolutely nothing to do with” the anti-Islam film. She said it first yesterday, and again today at the body-return ceremony at Joint Base Andrews for Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three who died trying to protect him. True enough, the producer cooperated with the Department of Justice, not the Department of State. But any Arab on the street will wonder whether that connection might exist after all.

Pre-planned riots?

Flag of Egypt. An anti-Islam film sparked riots there and in Libya. Or was that a set-up?

Flag of Egypt

Americans should also ask whether someone played a double game to start those riots. Particularly when those who killed Ambassador Stevens did not act spontaneously. The Independent (London, UK) said yesterday that someone planned that attack well in advance. They knew where Ambassador Stevens would be, because someone on his staff (or maybe some Libyan fifth columnists) tipped them off. The Independent also said (though the White House denied it) that the State Department knew forty-eight hours ahead of time that something like what the world has seen would break out. And they did nothing about it. (Not only that, but Ambassador Patterson, in charge of the Cairo embassy, did not let the Marine guards carry live ammunition.)

The problem: those who attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, and murdered Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans, entered under the cover of a rioting crowd. That crowd said they had the same motive as had the Egyptian crowd. That motive: an anti-Islam film by Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, check kiter and snitch.

And maybe—just maybe—a secret agent.

Why should news of that film break at such a convenient time for a “black” or “wet” operation that took weeks or months to plan? How could Al-Qaeda, the likely suspects, know that something like that would incite the people? Ayman al-Zawahiri inherited command of Al-Qaeda (“The Base”) from the late Osama bin Laden. He strictly charged his followers to attack American interests on September 11, 2012, to make Americans remember that Al-Qaeda can still threaten. A commander like al-Zawahiri would not depend on luck to give his men a chance to strike precisely on a date certain. He would set things up.

And how? By making sure to bring that anti-Islam film to public attention at a precise moment. And he might do more than that. He might shadow-executive-produce the film.

An anti-Islam film coming to public attention (through an “unauthorized” dub) at the right moment. A precise operation, with weeks of planning, depending on that film to start riots to give it cover. A producer who is also a US government snitch. And serious breaches of security, and of prudent procedure, in the Department of State.

The late Ian Fleming wrote these wise words in one of his many novels:

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and the third time it’s enemy action.

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