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. barbarianofgor

    Have you seen the film? For that alone he should be Jailed....

    I mean not for real 'coz I am for free press/speech/cinema/etc. and today's classics are often yesteryear's "Penny Dreadfuls"... But this is "So stupid it burns" bad.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sagebrush Shorty

    Tell me this was not political revenge by the Obama administration. Someone actually had the nerve to make a movie that Muslims did not like and of course we must not offend Islam. Citizens are treated like terrorists and terrorists are treated like citizens.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Okay...it wasn't political revenge, it was for a parole violation on a bank fraud conviction.
      Consider yourself told.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoKidding

      "Terrorists are treated like citizens"? Excuse me, wasn't it Obama who ordered intensified drone attacks against terrorists and ordered the killing of Bin laden? No matter how much the right wing nuts try to depict Obama as being on the side of terrorists, we know better.
      Remember Sarah Palin? Calling somebody a pal to terrorists won't get you anywhere.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Well the day after Obama is re-elected they throw a Christian Dog in Jail for insulting islam, wow what a great new government huh Only in USA under obama

      November 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorgath

      Sean, does that much stupid hurt?

      I mean, come on. He got thrown in jail for using a false name to commit fraud.

      November 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      This is how sick we are as a nation when they pick on a man and give him time in prison for just using an alias name to protect himself or his family from any bad people that might not like his freedom of speech. I hope they have to be judged accordingly by our Lord for doing this to him. Was it really that bad of a thing he did? I cannot imagine how he feels for only saying and showing what he felt in the movie. We know Muslims have their Sharia law and will abide by it if ordered and that means to take innocent life, even from their loved ones. They are a real sick bunch and it seems a sick bunch with them sending this man away on a petty offense that hurt no one. They were just singling him out and persecuting him for some sick reason other than using an alias. Did his alias name create any crime? What the F.,

      November 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Sigh... yeah, conspiracy theories are totally based in reality.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      It wasn't, you tool. Try actually reading the article, even just the first sentence. He was on parole for bank fraud! He was arrested for violating the terms of hi parole!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. little mister©

    Hiiii banasy. I am bringing pepperoni to my dazzle. Care to join us, I can pick u up. Poor dazzle doesnt know how to cook.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Sigh...he is not going to prison for free speech, but for a parole violation that he was wanted for BEFORE he even released this stupid movie....

    November 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • daveinla

      Four legs goooood two legs baaaaaad.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • lerianis

      Wrong. The parole violation in question was directly linked to this man using the internet to release this video. Which, the parole stipulation that kept him from using the internet is in and of itself illegitimate.

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

      Agreed, the man is a rascal, to put it mildly. And he is going to jail for a parole probation. But, as we are discovering, the incident at Benghazi was not a result of a spontaneous uprising against a film, but a pre-planned terrorist attack. And the timing of Mr. Youssef's arrest is certainly convenient. A rascal Mr. Youssef might be, but even rascals shouldn't find themselves being used as convenient scapegoats for a President's shortcoming.

      November 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Pick me up little mister. I know she's a lousy cook.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mohammed

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

    November 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blitz

      It's amazing how your ignorant mind believes the BS made up by this known fraudster.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
    • stella

      true...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bluesbaby911

    Yes except for one thing. He made that film without telling the actors what the film was about, and their lines were dubbed after. They were infringed on and he is being sued by at least one of them. I strongly believe in freedom of speech, however, there is a price to pay for everything. As well, he exposed the faces of all the actors, yet covered himself up like a mummy. If you make a stand, then show your stupid face and make your stand. He was afraid for his family, but not the actors or the repercussions it caused. Really think its worth it when you deliberately and knowingly or at least a good idea to insight violence. Its not like we didnt see the danish cartoonists. So he had a forboding knowledge of the outcome. If he acted alone i would say freecdom of speech, yep, go for it. However, it wasnt quite that clear cut, and no matter how you feel, the actors may not agree with you.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      and if he wasnt on parole the recourse they had would be civil and there would be no criminal charges. the criminal justice system isnt about "i wish there was a law" so it happens

      November 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    If all the politicians that you think are crooked, were all put in jail tomorrow, you still would be in the same spot whinning about something else.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Atienne

    Scenario #1: He's happy to go to jail because it will keep certain interested parties from cutting off his head.

    Scenario #2: He THINKS that by going to jail it will keep certain interested parties from cutting off his head. Lifers can be bribed very easily.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. corpsman

    Parole violation isn't a freedom of speech issue.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. concrete

    Now obama will tell the truth that he let four good men die so he (obama.) Can save face for the election this is a crime, but wate he can blame Hillary or Mr Bush. What will it be jail or impeachment or both. I favor both.

    November 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      Concrete. Is that what you have between your ears?

      November 8, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. jorgath

    To anyone who thinks this is a government conspiracy of some sort, any sort of successful conspiracy requires two things that just blatantly aren't true:
    1) the government is competent.
    2) the government can keep a secret.

    November 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sarcasm

    Man behind anti-Islam film gets year in prison
    Man behind anti-Jewish film gets year in prison
    Man behind anti-Gay film gets year in prison
    ManMan behind anti-Obama film gets year in prison
    Man behind anti-Christian film gets year in prison
    Man behind anti-ROMNEY film gets year in prison
    Freedom Of Speech ? Slippery slope here

    November 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      If man behind any of those scenarios violates parole for a previous bank fraud conviction, yep, off to prison he goes.
      No slippery slope; just him serving the sentence he was originally given parole for.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SPW

    Enjoy prison where a large portion of the population converts to Islam.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. frankenspine

    HE VIOLATED PAROLE, READ THE ARTICLE!

    November 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
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