The California-based maker of an anti-Islam film is being questioned by federal officers after violent demonstrations over the video spread worldwide.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a.k.a. Sam Bacile, was taken from his home in Cerritos, California to be questioned by federal probation authorities Saturday, media reported.
Nakoula, who had previously been jailed for bank fraud and methamphetamine manufacturing, covered his face with a white scarf and kept his head and hands concealed as Los Angeles county police escorted him from his home at 12:25 a.m. on Saturday morning.
He was convicted in 2010 of charging up to $750,000 on credit cards with false names and Social Security numbers. After serving over a year in prison, he was released but was barred under parole agreements from using a computer for non-work related purposes.
Although Nakoula was not formally arrested, authorities are looking into evidence linking him to the "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube video, the filming of which would have violated the terms of his parole. Several scenes in the film look to have been filmed in Nakoula's home and phone records have preliminarily tied him to others involved with the video.
The anti-Islam video, which depicts the Muslim Prophet Muhammed as a fraud, child molester and womanizer, has incited anti-American protests in multiple cities worldwide and was the impetus for an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three others.
The bodies of Stevens, information technology staffer Sean Smith and security personnel Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty returned to the U.S. Friday afternoon.
"Four Americans, four patriots - they loved this country and they chose to serve it, and served it well. They had a mission and they believed in it. They knew the danger and they accepted it," President Barack Obama said at a solemn ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near the capital.
"We will, under the President's leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added, saying they are working with authorities around the world to ensure this.
"The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob," Clinton added.
The anti-American protests that began in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday night have now spread across the world to the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and even Australia.
Over 60 U.S. missions have put out specific targeted Warden Messages, warning Americans to avoid protests and areas with low-security.
Anti-American protests have been reported in Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, East Jerusalem, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
At least five protesters were killed this week in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan and hundreds arrested for crimes ranging from thuggery to assaulting police officers and vandalizing embassy property.
Two U.S. Marines were also killed and several others wounded in a Taliban attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand, Afghanistan on Friday. The Taliban said they attacked the British base in retaliation for the Nakoula movie and also to target Prince Harry, who recently began serving there as a helicopter co-pilot gunner.
However, after more than four days of violent protests, culminating after Friday prayers yesterday, the rage appeared to be diminishing this weekend.
Questions remain at to the cause of death of Amb. Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty. However, the FBI has opened an investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
"Now that we have an open FBI investigation on the death of these four Americans, we are not going to be in a position to talk at all about what the U.S. Government may or may not be learning about how any of this happened," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Friday.
"Not who they were, not how they happened, not what happened to Ambassador Stevens, not any of it - until the Justice Department is ready to talk about the investigation that it's got," Nuland added.
Initial hospital reports from Benghazi indicate Stevens died of smoke inhalation resulting from being trapped in the burning consulate building. Smith was found in the compound rubble.
"The building that they were in, was overcome by fire and heavy black smoke, and it was under those circumstances that they lost each other," Nuland confirmed, without adding further detail. Multiple congresspeople have already indicated preliminary evidence points to the attack, which fell on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, was premeditated.
President Obama made clear the U.S. is working with resolve with allies and friends across the world to quell the violence and bring the attackers to justice.
"As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice," Obama said in his weekly presidential address issued by video Saturday.
"I know the images on our televisions are disturbing. But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom, and dignity, and hope that our flag represents," the president added.
"So with their memory to guide us, we will carry forward the work of making our country stronger, our citizens safer, and the world a better and more hopeful place."
by RTT Staff Writer
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