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. lerianis

    With all due respect, the stipulation that he shouldn't 'use the internet' was illegal and illegitimate on it's face and he should challenge this in a court of law.
    Many times, the judges think that they can put any stipulations on parole that they wish to. No, they are not allowed to, the laws specifically say that they have to be related to the offense in question. I.E. you cannot prevent a person from driving if their crime was spitting on another person.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Well, how do you know he didn't use a computer in the crime that he had previously been convicted of?

      November 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      If he used the net to commit the bank fraud, (a likely scenario) it is absolutely a good stipulation to have been given...

      November 8, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. MashaSobaka

    Are people not even reading the article? He's going to prison because he violated the terms of his parole. Not because he offended Muslims. PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE BEFORE YOU COMMENT.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Absolutely right.

      We're fighting ignorance one post at time... lol.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      @Reality Checker, you are the ignorant one. Sure they got him for parole violation but the real reason was for the anti islam movie. Otherwise why would clinton have told the father of one of the Americans who dies that the US would prosecute the filmaker and make sure he suffered the consequences of his actions. Do some more research my friend.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      Jane, seriously? Just because you say Clinton said he'd be prosecuted for making the film (regardless of of that being true or not) that means it's not possible for him to be arrested for breaking his parole? He's a convicted criminal (bank fraud) who violated his parole. He was arrested for violating his parole. It's all right there. Do you see anything other than the plain facts of this?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ernie

    I will never shed a tear for a Muslim

    November 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • nobull4u

      Would you walk a mile for a Camel?

      November 8, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Your pointy white hood is showing.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • OJ

      We will never care if you live or die. We are 1.8 billion and you are filthy creature.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      How Christian of you. Your savior would be proud.... hate & religion seem to go hand in hand.

      Love watching the pot calling the kettle black over & over & over again.

      Perpetual lunacy.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Zbillz1

      Who cares? Small minds like yours, just like other losers, are irrelevant!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wakeupnow

    Islam is satanic. So many false religions in the world. They are cults. Islam is dangerous, because it demands intolerance from it's brainwashed followers. Even satanism does not demand that it's followers destroy non-believers.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Sort of like Mormonism or Christianity. Isn't Satan a Christian god anyway?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    May allah guide you Ms ernie to Islam

    November 8, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • andreas

      by whatt?sword??

      November 8, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    The truth will prevail whether ou wakeupnow or after 100 years

    November 8, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. CTYank

    Only one year? Then what? Parole and pretty please don't do that again?

    Get real and give him at least 5-10, and make him sweat. He's a spineless swine.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. ernie

    Down with Islam

    November 8, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. JM

    Did anyone ever consider using psychological warfare in dealing with them in the first place, like back circa 2001? It seems like a very easy matter to whip up fanatics into frenzies, and all military intelligence ever had to do was use their abundant fanaticism as the gunpowder and ignite it with a fuse of some sort, and push the entire middle east back a century or more in every conceivable way, hopefully beginning with science, medicine and mortality above all else.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zena

    And to think, people died because if this buffoon.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. John Merrick

    I am not an animal. I am a human being.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • vahellbilly


      November 8, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. fedupwithla

    So much for freedom of speech in this country . . .

    November 8, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    Hate criminal, huh? Keep spreading the hate, the world needs more people like you. Racism and prejudice is good don't you know.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. vahellbilly

    Jim... Islam is not a race, it's a religious belief and a choice. Well, not exactly a choice in most islamist countries.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jim

    Then being Jewish is not a race either. Yet we call anybody who says anything against them as being racist.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve O

      Being Jewish isn't a race, it's a religion according to the Supreme Court. And we call people who oppress them anti-Semites, not racists.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • mmcgs

      Judaism, while technically not a 'race' in the usual sense of the word (because Jews do not share one common ancestry. For instance, Ashkenazi Jews (Europe) and Sephardic Jews (Middle East) are both "Jewish."), the US Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that at least for the purposes of non-discrimination, Judaism would be considered a semi-'racial' quality. There is a distinct difference, however, in people who identify as culturally Jewish (which adds to some people's views of Judaism as a 'race' in the loosest sense of the world) or religiously Jewish. Ultimately, to be "Jewish" means that you are part of the Judaic peoples, and it's a personal choice if you choose to claim it's because you were born into a Jewish home and culturally identify as Jewish or because you practice the Jewish religion (or both).

      November 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • natrldiver

      No, the term is anti-semitism not racisim. Religion is not a race. Anyone can be muslim, jew, christian, pagan, etc. The problem is that the media has forgotten the difference between the two and as usual blurred the truth.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • UseYourBrain

      Actually "Jewish" is NOT a race either; there are white Jews, Black Jews, Asian Jews etc. In addition, people who dislike Jews are called "Antisemits".

      November 11, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
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