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. OJ

    The disgusting parasites are you. You going around the world killing innocent people in the name of freedmon. You are a filthy coward.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sherri

    So they had to find something to jail him on. Everyone better look out because our freedom of speech is being slowly eroded. Why is it HE gets jailed but all these others can offend Americans daily and nothing is done to them? Why can Muslims offend Jews daily and nothing happens? Why can they bomb churches, kill Christians and other non Muslims and nothing happens? I had a feeling they'd do something to this guy. He made a film. So what. It's his right. We supposedly have freedom of speech, but not really, I guess.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Zod

      What is with you people? They didn't have to dig for something to arrest him for. He committed bank fraud! He was on parole for that! He violated the terms of his parole which (guess what?) is a valid and normal reason to throw a person in jail. That's how it works.

      I'm just as against prosecuting him for making that movie as anyone who respects freedom of speech would be, but this has nothing to do with that. He's a convicted criminal who got busted for violating his parole! Jeez!!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. OJ

    Did he do you. I am suspecting others did you.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. OJ

    It is still better than eating it. You are what you eat.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Zbillz1

    Immature, ignorant haters like you are the disgusting parasites of mankind. There's been a lot more innocent blood spilled by Christians than muslims. Try reading a book & learning some history before you shoot off your bigoted mouth! Jerk!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • TC

      Will you please make a recommendation for one of those books you refer too? Which one have you read?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • jbmar1312

      Here we go again, let's pick up with the crusades. A response to the muslim's taking Jerusalem and desecrating the temple mount, just like the romans and others. So it is ok for the muslims to invade and conquor but others can not defend themselves. By the way, muslims have built their mosques as a symbol of their conquest(mostly and origionally by warfare) . That is why a mosque at ground zeroe would be unacceptable.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • samnet45

      So, because some other group has killed people it excuses Islam for brutally murdering innocent people because they don't believe in the filthy teachings of the Qur'an?

      November 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Premal D.Shah

    American Judiciary and Judicial process today have lost what America stands for , freedom of speech and expression to the whims and fancies of terrorists among Muslims.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • OpinionsToGo

      He was not convicted for his film or speech but for violation of the rules of his probation.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      No, we've still got freedom of speech. I am free to speak truths like Mohammed does not exist, there is no god, when you die, that's it. That's the end. What I should not be allowed to do is make movies that suck as badly as that one did. That movie was so horrible that it made Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. That guy totally deserves prison.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Some Dude in Atlanta

    Either lock him up and throw away the key or show his face just before he is released.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • rick1948


      November 8, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • jIM

      So in your opinion, because the islamic wackos would kill people for insulting their religion, everyone should walk on eggshells around them and allow them the dignity of feeling they are in the right?

      No....this man saw a wrong and called it out.....
      Anyone who would be annoyed at someone who is pointing out maniacs, is nothing more than a coward.

      .......and don't even think "shouting fire in theater".....completely different.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jazzy

      How ironic. I've never seen anyone jailed for insulting Jesus. A planned terrorist attack (Libya warned about weeks ahead) that the administration blamed on an old movie so as not to make themselves look bad, made in a country where freedom of speech at least used to be protected and he's jailed for a small violation that would normally not get a year in prison. We do want to show the Muslim Brotherhood after all that we are willing to please them. Fellow Americans you have no idea what you've done. We may as well give in right now and bow to the East.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • imj54

      @ jLM.....It's really easy to sit on a blog and talk about people being cowards because just like him your face isn't being shown. If you want to start the fight you need to man up and take responsibility for what you started (referring to his spoof) The way he made this was him being a much bigger coward than the person that holds their tongue. The reason Americans hold their tongue around Muslims typically is because they are threatened and scared of them. I have been to the Middle East on multiple occasions and it's not a bunch of crazies running around. They are however, much more dedicated to their religion than the typical American is...I'll give them credit for that.

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

    Look. A hornets nest with someone standing under it. I'm going to throw a rock and see if they get stung.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. mariner v

    This is in response to Frank:

    You should have had a reply button. I couldn't resist responding to your commentary. The phrasing was exceptional. I've seen both movies and so your quip was absolutely hysterical. Keep commenting. Nice work.

    "That movie was so horrible that it made Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane."

    November 8, 2012 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. thedarkelf

    This is a sad and ridiculous judgement. Im so disgusted with the American leaders right now. We are threatened with bounties for our lives and kidnapping by Muslims and nothing is done or said. And every time some minority or religion cries racist or bias our people fold. And today they are making up BS charges to make it look like we are sympathetic about a spoof film. I dont even recognize my own country anymore. I dont double think real well and I still think your word is your bond. If I knew this country was going to get this way I would have chosen to go to Canada along time ago. At least there you can live in peace and real freedom

    November 8, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • GS

      When you leaving?
      People talk about leaving this country, you're not going anywhere /:(

      November 8, 2012 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
    • bigot

      Putting someone in jail over what you consider BS charges or breaking his terms of probation is more of a slap in the face to the muslim community than sympathy. The fact that he isnt going to jail for making the film will enrage muslims.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • USN RET.

      WHY IS IT THAT Muslims demand to be treated like WE HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING TO ANYONE? When Christian, Buddhist, Jews in the Middle East are treated like 3rd rate humans by the majority of the population. I've been there and have seen the looks.
      I severed the people of this country to protect YOUR RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ALL OTHERS THAT OVER 2,000,000 men and women have died and MILLIONS of wounded to protect. So protesting someone’s right to free speech is WORNG.
      This man maybe guilty of parole violations but not for expressing his option.

      November 8, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Ceri

      He was on probation for a fraud that involved the use of false names. He violated the terms of his probation by using false names. He was called on it and found guilty. Where's the problem in that? It is called the rule of law – you break the rules, you pay the price. This happens in Canada too.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Don in MO

      @bigot – because in America we have a right called "Freedom of Speech". So when the Muslims get upset about the film they have the right to protest. But to suppress the freedom of one person to express their views in legal venues is the start of us looking like China and well the Muslims themselves!

      @USN RET – thank you for your service! I'm sure you meant to say "I served the people" instead of "I severed the people"

      November 8, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • jaimie

      Stay out of Canada, we don't need any more like you.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Chooch0253

      @ USN RET What were you a cook? Go back to school and get an education.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex M

      You will like Canada. They have a government sponsored health care. Is universal and free. I suppose you are all for it right?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • USN RET.

      No just let myself get had by Word spell checker.
      Also let me know how big that chip is. From your other comments it’s rather large.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • MACT

      What makes you think we would want you in our country?

      November 8, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • longtooth

      I knew there would be comments like yous on this story. Try reading it again.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      " I dont even recognize my own country anymore." Yeah, black people going to college and women cops pulling you over and not being able to beat up quare folk anymore, it just ain't the same. How DO all those women and minorities and odd fellows stand it? How long until they give up and put us old white guys back in charge of them?
      Quit wasting our time with this old-man buffoonery. Just tell us to get off your lawn and then go back to sleep.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. andreas

    it's a justice for what obama's's done.thank you.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. jb

    Weak. Islam sucks. It is a bloodthirsty, fratricidal cult that wants to bring the world back 1000 years. Shia killing Sunni, Sunni killing Shia. Totally mindless SHEEP, willing to die for........anything. Morons.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
    • biggerdawg

      1400 years of assaults, land grabbing and forced conversion. What a track record.

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

      Talking of sheep... add jb to the flock.

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

      And christianity doesnt? How ironic you are describing religion as a whole.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Sad, but....

      "Mormons" has two "m's" in it.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      "Totally mindless SHEEP, willing to die for........anything." Look up the Crusades on something that isn't Glen Beck-type history. Christians have done pretty much everything you describe as well. Ask the next Albigensian you see about Christian tolerance.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. MZ

    Why are people still under the delusion that he's been jailed for anything related to freedom of speech or this film's result? HE VIOLATED PROBATION ON SEVERAL ACCOUNTS. HE WAS UNDER PROBATION BECAUSE HE WAS A CONVICTED FELON. HE DESERVED TO GO BACK TO JAIL FOR THOSE VIOLATIONS. Unless you're okay with anyone who committed a felony breaking their probation?

    November 8, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Don in MO

      Well said MZ. That was all they could charge him with. Everything else he did was within all of our rights!

      November 8, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Iconoclast

      I agree with you MZ.
      Before this, he was convicted and served prison time for bank fraud where he used aliases to deceive people, so part of his probation was that he was NOT allowed to use an alias without the approval of his parole officer. He not only violated his probation by assuming and using a false name, but he used it to to deceive people in the movie, so he violated his probation and used it to deceive AGAIN. The deception was made worse by possessing a driver's license with his false name, which is a pretty serious offense for anyone, let alone someone on parole. This man is a con man and 100% deserved prison the first time and this time. The content of the movie is irrelevant! End of discussion.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sagebrush Shorty

    You tax dollars being wasted (again) on political correctness and fear of offending Muslims.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • saganhill

      ....... Wrong, you're assumptions are wrong on this article. Please read!.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      Shorty, you break the law, you do the time. While he's in prison, he will have a lot of time to unofficially debate Islam with Muslim inmates. Perhaps he will see the light and convert? Perhaps he will drop the soap and pervert? He may even leave with all his teeth, but he will certainly have a more intimate knowledge of Muslim rituals like ghusl.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Wow. Talk about politically correct nonsense! The guys who killed over three thousand civilians on September 11th have yet to be convicted. This guy makes a short, bad film clip ... and he's already off to the joint. Welcome to America, kiddies. Note to self: Short film clip ... bad. Flying four planes into civilian targets ... we're not decided on that one yet. Sheesh ...

    November 8, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • SweetWillliam

      Correlation does not imply causation. Read the article again to see why what's-his-name is going to prison.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Chooch0253

      Nonsense? That would be the posting you just made. Rather difficult to "prosecute" people that are dead don't you think? Your problem has nothing to do with justice. It has everything to do with ignorance.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • EA

      John how about the thousands and thousands of people that got killed by the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan???
      And I think you don't know how to read, because I am pretty sure I read he was sentenced for breaking his probation and committing fraud..nothing to do with the film..

      November 8, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      "Flying four planes into civilian targets " Right, because we totally have those people locked up somewhere. Maybe they are at Trump's house?

      November 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
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