Benghazi scapegoat remains in prison for film

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The man who made the anti-Islam film that Obama administration officials erroneously blamed for the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks remains in federal prison eight months later, serving a yearlong sentence for probation violations committed as a result of his involvement with the video.

Mark Basseley Youssef, who made the film “Innocence of the Muslims” under the pseudonym Sam Bacile, was sentenced in November after pleading guilty to four violations of a supervised release order, which included lying to his probation officer, using aliases, and using the Internet, according to court records.


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“There has been no change in his status that we’re aware of,” an official with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California, the office that charged him, said Monday on condition of anonymity. The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Sept. 26.

Youssef, who legally changed his name from Nakoula Basseley Nakoula while facing the charges, was on supervised release last year following his imprisonment in June 2010. He was convicted on four felony counts, including bank fraud and identity theft, and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He was released, according to federal records, in June 2011.

The probation violations came to light when Youssef found himself at the center of a huge media firestorm after an Islamic cleric with a large TV following highlighted a trailer for his movie posted on YouTube.

“Innocence of the Muslims” angered many Muslims by portraying Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a madman, murderer and pedophile.

After the cleric posted the movie online, thousands of angry Muslims marched on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and there were riots in subsequent days in Yemen, Tunisia and Pakistan.

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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