Twitter users question existence of anti-Muslim film producer
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Some active Twitter pundits have cast doubt on the authenticity of Sam Becile, allegedly the producer of the anti-Islam film that sparked a flurry of protests at US embassies worldwide, ostensibly leading to the killing of US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
The Twitter users, each of whom have over 1,000 followers, have also questioned whether the film served as a direct cause of the attack. They have raised the possibility that the assault was carried out for purposes other than the ones entertained by the international media, which reports news of angry Muslims in the same breath as the fatal attack on the US envoy.
The assault in Benghazi, which is seen as the cradle of the pro-democracy movement that led to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's downfall, led to the killing of four US officials, including the ambassador, and several Libyan guards.
"The Innocence of Muslims" trailer, which was published on YouTube this July, depicts the Muslim prophet Mohammed as a pedophile and homosexual.
"All I'm saying is that there appears to be more in Benghazi than 'some people got angry about a film.' Need more probing reports," Ali Abunimah, a researcher and activist for Palestinian rights, writes on his Twitter timeline.
Abunimah notes that neither Reuters nor The New York Times were able to establish a direct link between the film and the attacks.
"Media need to produce evidence linking Benghazi attack to Bacile film or stop making the claim that the film was the pretext," says Abunimah.
But some on the Internet have gone even further in their skepticism by casting doubt on the very identity of the alleged anti-Islam filmmaker.
"Before the July 2012 upload of the film trailer to YouTube, under the user name Sam Bacile, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of the existence [of] a California real estate developer online," writes Sarah Posner, senior editor at Religious Dispatches.
"What’s more, if whoever made the film actually spent $5 million on it, the expenditure hardly shows in the content, acting, or production values. Amateurish doesn't even begin to describe the 13-minute trailer on YouTube," she adds.
Posner compiles reports from news outlets that report having contacted Bacile, specifically the Associated Press, The Times of Israel and The Wall Street Journal and identifies fundamental contradictions between the three accounts. In one, he is 56 years old, whereas in the other, he is 52. He identifies as an Israeli to the AP but as "Jewish familiar with the region" to The Times of Israel.
An AP story, she adds, mentions that Israeli officials "had not heard of [Bacile] and there was no record of him being a citizen."
Bacile is widely referred as an Israeli-American in the Western press.
"The fact is anyone taking the film that supposedly triggered the recent violence in #Libya and #Egypt seriously is being trolled by bigots," writes blogger 'Brown Moses', pointing out that Bacile's YouTube profile shows that he commented on a video in Egyptian dialect.
The alleged filmmaker is widely reported to be "in hiding" by the international press.