Man behind anti-Islam film gets year in prison
Mark Basseley Youssef appeared in a federal courtroom last month.
November 7th, 2012
08:45 PM ET

Man behind anti-Islam film gets year in prison

[Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET] An Egyptian-American man behind the inflammatory film "Innocence of Muslims" on Wednesday was sentenced to one year in federal prison after admitting to violating the terms of his probation from a 2010 bank fraud case.

Mark Basseley Youssef also was ordered to serve four years of supervised release after his prison term. The sentencing by Judge Christina Snyder came in a Los Angeles federal court after a hearing Wednesday in which Youssef admitted using an alias, which prosecutors said violated his probation.

The amateur filmmaker from Cerritos, California, was identified in initial news accounts in September as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the name used in the bank fraud case. But the probation revocation case lists the defendant as Mark Basseley Youssef, which the filmmaker stated in court is his legal name.

In a plea deal, Youssef admitted to using a name other than his legal one; possessing a driver's license under the Nakoula name; possessing a fraudulent driver's license; and falsely telling his probation officer last month that he hadn't used the name of Sam Bacile, a name he allegedly used in making the controversial film.

While on probation, Youssef was prohibited from using any other name without consent of his probation officer.

Youssef's attorney, Steven Seiden, told reporters Wednesday that his client pleaded guilty in part because he wanted to save all parties the expense of going to trial. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss four other charges.

Youssef garnered international attention following protests against the "Innocence of Muslims" film throughout the Muslim world. The amateurish film portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester. Islam categorically forbids any depictions of Mohammed, and blasphemy is an incendiary taboo in the Muslim world.

The film was initially implicated in a violent demonstration in Libya that left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead on September 11.

U.S. officials initially said the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby U.S. annex came as protesters outside the consulate rallied against the online video. But the Obama administration now says the incident was a terrorist attack, occurring 11 years to the day after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Still, the film, backed by hardcore anti-Islam groups in the United States, prompted protests in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories when an Arabic translation of the film's trailer was released online a few weeks before the anniversary of September 11.

Youssef had been on probation since being released from federal prison in June 2011 after serving 21 months in the bank fraud case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said in court Wednesday that the new sentence was appropriate, asserting Youssef's use of aliases was part of "a long-running pattern of deception," and that the film's actors and actresses "had no idea he was a recently released felon."

Cast and crew members have said they didn't know that they were shooting a film having anything to do with Islam or the Prophet Mohammed. The prophet's name was dubbed in after the film was shot, some of them have said.

Seiden said Wednesday that Youssef admits to being the film's writer, and that he might also have been a "cultural consultant" on the film.

soundoff (380 Responses)
  1. fumetti2011

    Obama is proven to have lied about the Benghazi attacks, and this man takes the fall? Sickening. Obama should be the one in prison.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Flaco

      That is not true.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4sanity

      So am I right in thinking you are supporting the person convicted of bank fraud ? He swindled $100,000s, served time and was out on probation. He went back to engaging in fraudulent claims, violated his probation terms, managed to incite religious fanatics and further damaged the diplomatic missions of the US.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      lol if anyone should be in prison it should be George W bush for Iraq and Afghanistan, guantanamo, etc.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • VoiceOfLogic

      Some very stupid comments here; Especially from people saying he`s going to prison because of the anti islamic movie!!!! JUST ASK YOURSELVES IF HE WASN'T ON PROBATION FOR BANK FRAUD DO YOU THINK HE WILL BE GOING TO JAIL!!!! .. His freedom of speech was very much protected . THINK ABOUT THAT IDIOT`S

      November 8, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Don in MO

      I'll agree with your assessment of Obama. But the movie maker isn't taking the fall for anything other than violating his probation. Obama just used him as red herring to cover his willingness to let American citizens be killed by Muslims. Just like Obama was willing to let Cindy Crawley take the fall for covering up his lie about calling Benghazi a terrorist attack on the 12th and letting Hillary show she had bigger cajones than he did by saying "The Buck Stops Here".

      November 8, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      You guys are sure desperate to try and find evil Obama conspiracies. I mean WOW! Really digging. How is this story even a partisan topic? This guy was a convicted criminal (bank fraud) who was on probation and who violated the terms of his probation. He was put in prison for that, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with the content of his terrible movie or how crazy fanatics reacted to it.

      He was a criminal who (surprise) got busted for continuing to act like a criminal. Obama could have been the guy who actually blew up the embassy and it wouldn't change the fact that this guy was put in jail for a very good reason that had nothing to do with it.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sicarium

    Congratulations Obama voters. You've given the US political prisoners.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • azee1v1

      LOL we already had political prisoners, ever heard of Gitmo?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • azee1v1

      He is in jail on a fraud case which was already in the system before any of his film controversy started, on top of that he was already convicted of fraud before as well. Stop being ignorant.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOHN

      right you are

      November 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Oh, freaking yawn.
    He is going to jail because he violated his parole, not that because that stupid film.
    Get a grip on your self-righteous hysteria.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOHN


      November 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)¬©

      Muslim virus ? What the hell is that ?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      hi guys, I'm back ... yep , he's goin' to the slammer ... perhaps his "roomies" might explain the error of his ways ...the wheels of justice grind slowly... and no amount of political trolling can distract from the fact that this jerk caused problems intentionally.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      Nope, the POTUS *still* isn't Muslim, no matter how many times the lie is repeated.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Keep drinking the kool aid. The father of one the Americans killed in Libya confirmed that Clinton told him personally that the film maker would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law . She told him they would get the guy and they have. They were gunning for him and intended to use any path to get him. But because you love Obama and believe this administration can do no wrong you will willing close your eyes and say it had nothing to do with the film. Whatever makes you happy I guess.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Now banasy you know full well if President Obama hadn't lied about the real cause of Benghazi, there is no way this man would have gone to jail.
    See that lump in my cheek ? That's my tongue.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      Oh, yeah, and those bank fraud charges would have miraculously disappeared...don't bite that tongue.

      Evil shenanigans!

      November 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. fred said

    fred said this guy would be safe in prison

    November 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)¬©

      If there are muslims in there who saw the film he's not.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    The real crime is that he only received one year in prison for bank fraud in the first place. Hopefully he will serve a much longer stint for the parole violations.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gk

    Nothing at all to with upsetting the Middle East. No, nothing at all.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      No, not really. I think the bank fraud followed by the continued fraud which resulted in violation of his probation pretty much covers it.

      Oh, I'm sorry, should we not prosecute people who commit bank fraud and then, after being convicted, break the terms of their parole by committing more fraud?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. whydononmuslimshavetotoleratethis

    This is simply ridiculous. This is mockery of freedom of expression. Just because he made a film about islam, they found a legal loophole to send him to prison. Why is world so afraid of islamic rioters or blind followers of islam? Makes one even more repellent about the religion which preaches tolerance to others but not to the followers.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeyWhat?

      A legal loophole? Probation isn't a legal loophole it literally means testing of strange behaviour or abilities. In a legal sense, an offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, if the offender violates they then go back to jail.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      Thank you, SeyWhat, you beat me to it.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. IvyLeagueMamaLlama

    I hope it keeps him out of trouble for a while.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Abdul Ameer

    This is disgraceful. Everyone knows that he was put in prison for political reasons in order to placate the mad Moslems, and not because of parole violations. Had he not made that stupid video, nobody would have cared about his parole violations. Putting him in prison was Hillary Clinton's and Obama's revenge in order to show the Moslems that America is against offending Moslems.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Ignorance and conspiracy theories seem to go hand-in-hand. Is it just a coincidence?

      November 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      No, he would still go to prison. Why on earth wouldn't he? He committed bank fraud and then violated the terms of his probation by continuing fraud. WHy would they NOT put him in prison? Those were the terms.

      All that his involvement in making that movie did was to make his getting busted (again) newsworthy. That's it!

      November 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hazheet Ma Drawerz

    Taking odds on how long he lives in prison

    November 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ah Wana Fuq Yu

    This man should only get 71 virgins when he die

    November 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete/Ark

      my vietnamese is a little rusty after 40+ years ,but a phonetic translation has something to do with being a fruit of some sort...

      November 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pete/Ark

    I went to public school ... does that make me a publican ?

    November 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • DBHouston

      If you had to take a year over again, would you be a re-publican?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • NY

      Yes... yes it does.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • frontgate

      how about just a plain ole everyday fooool

      November 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |

      If you failed and had to take it two or more times then you are a re-publican ROFL

      November 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    Some very...creative u/n's here tonight...

    November 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lockhimup

    This guy should be tossed in the slammer for making such a horrible film, funny yes but acting and voice work very sub par even for an indi film. You do not have freedom of expression in this country so get over it. The government owns our souls.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      He didn't get convivcted of making a bad film; if that were just it, our prisons would be overflowing.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      You might want to read the article again.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
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