LOS ANGELES — The mystery surrounding the man behind the crudely produced anti-Islamic video that sparked violence in the Middle East deepened when he appeared in court and identified himself by yet another name.
Arrested on Thursday in Los Angeles after authorities said he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula told a judge his real name was Mark Basseley Youssef. He said he had been using that name since 2002, even though he went by Nakoula in his fraud case.
Court documents filed in Orange County Superior Court show he was granted a name change petition in 2002 and legally changed his name to Mark Basseley Youssef because “Nakoula is a girl’s name and it cause me troubles.”
On Friday, federal prosecutors said court documents will now reflect Youssef’s real name. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Youssef didn’t give that name when he was charged two years ago. Also, he had a driver’s license under Nakoula, authorities said.
“He did not provide his true legal name at the time of prosecution,” Dugdale said.
The full story about Youssef and the video “Innocence of Muslims” still isn’t known more than two weeks after violence erupted in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world where at least 50 people have died in protests related to the film.
Citing a lengthy pattern of deception and the potential to flee, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal ordered Youssef to remain in prison without bond until another judge can hold a hearing to determine if he broke the terms of his probation.
“The court has a lack of trust in this defendant at this time,” Segal said.
Prosecutors noted Youssef had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases. He could face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term.
After his 2010 conviction, Youssef was sentenced to 21 months in prison and was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer, though prosecutors said none of the violations involved the Internet. He also wasn’t supposed to use any name other than his true legal name without the prior written approval of his probation officer.
Three names, however, have been associated with Youssef this month alone.
The movie was made last year by a man who called himself Sam Bacile. After the violence erupted, a man who identified himself as Bacile spoke to media outlets including The Associated Press, took credit for the film and said it was meant to portray the truth about Muhammad and Islam, which he called a cancer.
The next day, the AP determined there was no Bacile and linked the identity to Nakoula Nakoula, a former gas station owner with a drug conviction and a history of using aliases. Federal authorities later confirmed there was no Bacile and that Nakoula was behind the movie.
Some of the false statements in Youssef’s alleged probation violations had to do with the film, Dugdale said. Youssef told probation officials his role was just writing the script, and denied going by the name Sam Bacile in connection with the film, Dugdale said.
Before going into hiding, Youssef acknowledged to the AP that he was involved with the film but said he only worked on logistics and management.View Entire Story
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