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. zenfire

    So much for freedom of speach. Nothing at all to do with our incompetant president. Libs say that a man can't say what he wants, but a woman can kill her unborn. Makes a lot of sense!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      "So much for freedom of speach." It is spelled "speech," Abdul. Go water your goat.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anders Behring Breivik (King of the Island)

    So...they throw u in jail for saying the truth. What a country!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sane1

    if he gets the lohan treatment he'll be home for dinner tomorrow

    November 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kalpakoff

    What a witchhunt.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Didn't say anything about getting in trouble for antisemitism... If a kid at a school can't bully someone around why is this guy allowed too? This is exactly what every person on Earth needs to do expose who the corrupt are. I find this man innocent on the bank fraud, guilty for lying about his name and antisemitism and not respecting his elders. And in a structured society I can only send him to jail for 29 days max and 7 days of work crew.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KBG263

      Good ole media, and of course a whole bunch of "Headline" readers. Media uses hooks to draw us in then writes a completely different story then what is alluded to from the Headline. Then a bunch readers react to the Headline and never read the story. We are a sensationalizing lazy country.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Actually

    He will probably get the Irv Rubin Treatment, by which I mean the guards will forget to put a tape in the security cameras, then insist he slit his own throat with a safety razor and threw his own body over a wall. This is how America does it today. This is how America will do it tomorrow. That is, until America has no more tomorrows, which it won't, when the lenders realize that America is Bankrupt.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sailor101

      Can you say CooCoo for CoCo Puffs....I knew you could.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      "The amateurish film portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, ruthless killer and child molester. "

      ALL TRUE.
      The OTHER Muslim Holy Book.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Um, violation of freedom of speech and expression here??? HELLO! Where is the uprising against this flagrant violation of an American's liberties?
      In this country, you can say whatever you please, as long as you are not threatening violence (which this man wasn't)...just look at all the Republican-bashing and criticism of Christianity that plasters the media daily.
      It is ridiculous that a person could be dragged from his home in the middle of the night as punishment for portraying a religion in a negative light, in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I am disgusted that no one is standing up for his freedom. ACLU?

      November 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lorri

      "Actually" there is nothing actual about what you said. If that were true we wouldn't have such over crowding in the prisons here dummy.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. daveinla

    Holder is most dangerous AG ever. The NKV has struck.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mudbone9

    The id10t should have gotten the death penalty after all the carnage and death he caused. What's worse is that it was originally reported that he was Jewish which even more inflamed Muslims. This guy was paid to do this movie just to cause problems between the US and Muslims. I dislike all organized religion but what he did was just like yelling fire in a movie theater and should be severely punished.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • plzsmackurself

      Woah, besides violating parole this man did nothing wrong if u remeber where we r this is MERICA where we have the freedom of speech, I DO NOT agree with his views but even OBAMA has defended this man in saying that he has his own rights

      November 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ImIrish

      Um, news flash. The carnage wasn't about this film. It was a planned terrorist attack on 9/11!!!!!! He was being used as a scapegoat, and then we found out the White House was lying about what they knew and when.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – today's sentence has absolutely nothing to do with his film or the rioting it caused.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      I disagree

      November 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      he made a bad movie under a stage name. if he wasnt on parole they couldnt do a thing to him.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. max

    i'm just glad he doesn't live in a country where they throw you in jail for saying something that other people in another country don't like......
    and Since I'm dreaming I'd like a pony.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BlackDynamite

    So his prison term has little, or nothing, to do with the film.
    He was a criminal long before this film came out.

    That's the take away......

    November 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ImIrish

      Yeah, right. Thinking adults think that, too (dripping with sarcasm).

      November 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. If only Romney had won...

    I don't like health care

    November 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. antonio

    This is an insane justice? why is it if a muslim criticizes Christianity he gets away with it but if a Christian criticizes Islam he gets punishment?...insane justice..

    November 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Welcome to Obama's America, Antonio.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Try reading the article before making a stupid comment.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      " violating the terms of his probation from a 2010 bank fraud case"

      learn how to read.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      And maybe YOU should learn how to read between the lines.

      When's the last time you heard of someone being hauled off in the night and thrown in prison for a year for a non-violent violation of parole–in this case, using a computer??

      Trumped up charges in an attempt to divert the blame for the terrorist attack from Al Qaeda to some anti-Muslim film maker. The White House created this diversion so they didn't have to admit Muslim terrorism is alive and well, and so they didn't have to own up to dropping the ball when the Consulate repeatedly asked for increased security.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. William

    Typical biased reporting. He was sentenced for something totally unrelated to the film and yet that's the headlines.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      You should have put "for something totally unrelated to the film" in quotes, because we all know it's b.s. and in reality it's retaliation for the film.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • reasonablebe

      ron: you have no idea how probation works. violation means revocation. he was lucky he only got 1 year. next time, he'll be a recidivist, and in some states, 3 strikes you're out low means life.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOB


    November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JLK

    Why not revoke his citizenship and deport him?

    November 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. reasonablebe

    this is a man who has an aversion to the truth and honesty, to say the least. don't forget his face, and turn him away if he wants to sell you anything, even if it is not a bridge. do not put him in charge of anything with any value... and don't trust him.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
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