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. rare_earth

    So, no one here read the article?
    He wasn't sentenced to prison for the film.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Apparently forming an opinion without information is very popular.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Judging from the comments, hardly anyone here actually read the article. Sad isn't it? Not even as far as the the first sentence.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. josh rogen

    welcome to the land of the free and home of the Obama's

    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Would you rather have the U.S. NOT be the land of the free?

      November 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tortfeasor

    If Obama had any respect for the consitution and freedom of speech, he would pardon him. But we all know he doesn't.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      You do realize that this guy went back to jail for violating his probation and not for anything having to do with his "film" or matters of freedom of speech?

      This guy sure sounds like he is a career criminal.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      What part of "violation of parole" do you not understand? Why on earth should this man be pardoned? Because he shares your intolerance? How about no.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gayle G.

    violating the terms of his probation from a 2010 bank fraud case, that's what put him in Prison...

    November 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan


      November 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Yes, Dan, really.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazzy

      Right!!!! Where do you live, Sesame Street?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. dmanero

    WHY??? what ever happened to freedom of speech? And anyway since when it speaking the truth a bad thing.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Did you read the article? He went back to jail for violating his parole

      Reading is important. Reading comprehension is of even greater importance.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka


      November 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazzy

      You're all extremely naive if you really think that coincidentally he was jailed for his parole violation. All he had to do was jaywalk and they would have thrown him in there. This was nothing more than a ploy to legitimize what the White House did and to appear to the Arabs that we did something about it. And by the way, it is a fact that this was a pre-planned terrorist attack that had nothing to do with some film that had been out for months and months before. Even the leaders in Libya had warned ahead about an attack and lack of security and afterwards stated it was not the film. Maybe YOU should learn to read, you seem to be selective in that area. Educate yourself on current events and get your head out of the sand.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Jazzy, do you have anything at all to back up anything you are saying? You think it could only be a conspiracy that this guy got himself arrested for parole violation?! He was convicted of bank fraud. Maybe his being a criminal had something to do with it.
      The notoriety of his movie and the reaction it got is merely the reason why his being arrested is of any interest in the media. Otherwise, he'd just be another crook getting thrown in jail for parole violation.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    Terrific, now we are just like Red China – throwing people in jail because we don't like their viewpoint. Do you know how many Coptic Christians are killed in Egypt every year? Google it and find out. There are two sides to every story.

    Sure the film was a sleazy job, but it was still free speech. Did it explicitly urge violence against anyone? I don't think so.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad76

      He was thrown in jail for probation breach, not free speech.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Seriously... another one?

      Do people even read the article?

      November 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    That's not a nice way to talk about the prophet Mohammed.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nochness Monster

      F Muhammed. He was a pedophile and murderer of Jews. Better than Hitler, but not by much.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • LittleBearFN

      so what. People constantly 'slam' Christianity... You don't see us acting like barbarians when we are offended (granted there are a few exceptions that do not represent the rest of us)...

      November 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • stella

      you mean false prophet mohammed?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    He. Is. In. Prison. For. A. Parole. Violation. For. Bank. Fraudmm
    Why is reading comprehension SUCH a hard thing???

    November 7, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey1313

      True, but they wouldn't have gone after him if he hadn't been mocking the great moles... I mean mohamad

      November 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker


      How can anyone actually read the article and NOT understand that he went back to jail for violating his parole.

      Seriously people. Be smart.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Yes, Micky, they would still have gone after him. He violated his parole. It's pretty simple.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe Blow

    A root in the nuts would help "rehabilitate" too ... just saying ...

    November 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bianca


    Oh wait, I'm not an idiot.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ernie

      He just got Reelected

      November 8, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Uh, the bombing might have been a planned terrorist attack but it clearly used the crazy riots (which were, in fact, ignited by the movie) as cover. I'm not sure where you folks are getting your conspiracy theories from regarding Obama.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jazzy

      If you research this, Zod, you can also find that emails were sent to the White House warning them that the Libyan government would be unsuccessful at protecting our people there. The UK got their people out of there. Ours were told to stay. Then further, it is a fact if you research this, they were also denied an extra 15 marines they had requested to at least help protect themselves. Denied extra protection in one of the most dangerous places in the world on the anniversary of 9/11 by our own gov't, left there to be eaten by the wolves.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Divo

    Then let's throw the guys behind the 'Book of Mormon' musical in jail on some minor charge, too. Why do we only care what crazy, violent people think?

    November 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snanda

    Ok, he is lucky he got a year in prison . The US Government will be looking to lock him down rest of his life . He is lucky he only did not serve probation . Had he commited any other crime, he would have got 20 years easy . That being said he will have to watch his back now . Even a felony or anything (like not paying taxes) will have the gov. more than happy to land him in jail . Jail is the best place where he can make his films .

    November 7, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Crowley

    So, nowhere have i seen where anyone refutes the claims made in the movie. Those being that Mohammed was a womanizer, a buffoon, a ruthless killer and a child molester. Mainly because it is the truth? It is a valid question not an accusation. But maybe no-one refutes it because history speaks for itself.

    He got charged with a violation of parole, which he should, yet that wasn't what the so called outrage was about. The outrage came from not being able to show Mohammeds face or a likeness of him, or at least that was the claim. In the early days of Christianity you were not allowed to portray Jesus either. Of course we all know that Jesus as portrayed by the church for the last 2000 years as a blond haired blue eyed man is a true portrait of Him right? Speculation is high on why portraits of both were not allowed but worshiping a falsehood is a thin veil of reasoning. Maybe because when they were alive there might have been people looking for them for various different reasons??

    The film is an old film and well know before 9/11...coincidence of course, not exactly a brand new release but for whatever reason certain people decided that *THIS* was the reason people revolted and blew up an embassy and killed people. He knew what he was making and knew he was making it under false pretenses. Therefore he also decided to pay the price.

    Does he deserve the punishment for parole violation? Absolutely. Does he deserve the blame for much of all else he is getting blamed for? No, i don't think so.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blitz

      "But maybe no-one refutes it because history speaks for itself". Which history is that exactly? The one which was made up by a convicted fraudster? He's a fraud and therefore all that he says and does is false. You choose believe anything that fuels your hatred and ignorance towards another religion.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    Why does he stay in the USA and not DEPORTED. We don't need criminals from other nations living here.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jamesacooley

    Would he be facing a year in the slammer if he posted clips from The Life of Brian or The Book of Mormon? of course not! The fact is that the Islamic world will see this as just punishment for defaming their prophet – and expect it to be repeated. Sharia won.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Please read the article. There is valuable information in it.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      No, James, he wouldn't. And he wasn't jailed for making an offensive movie about Mohammed either. Try reading even just the first sentence of the article.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
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