Afghanistan’s government sought to avert any protests. President Hamid Karzai condemned the movie, and authorities also temporarily shut down access to YouTube, said Aimal Marjan, general director of Information Technology at the Ministry of Communications.
The search for those behind ‘‘Innocence of Muslims’’ led to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.
A man identifying himself as Sam Bacile told the AP on Tuesday that he wrote, produced and directed the film.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told the AP in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced ‘‘Innocence of Muslims.’’
Nakoula denied directing the film and said he knew Bacile. But the cellphone number that the AP used Tuesday to reach the man who identified himself as Bacile was traced to the same address near Los Angeles where the AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula’s aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.
Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film’s director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.
Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.
Nakoula denied posing as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver’s license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found the name ‘‘Basseley’’ and other connections to the Bacile persona.
Bacile told the AP he was an Israeli-born, 56-year-old, Jewish writer and director. But a Christian activist involved in the film project, Steve Klein, said Wednesday that ‘‘Bacile’’ was a pseudonym, that he was not Jewish or Israeli, and a group of Americans of Mideast origin collaborated on the film. Officials in Israel also said there was no record of Bacile as an Israeli citizen.
And even though Bacile told AP he was 56, he identified himself on his YouTube profile as 74. Bacile also said he is a real estate developer, but his name does not appear in searches of California state licenses, including the Department of Real Estate.
Film industry groups and permit agencies said they had no records of ‘‘Innocence of Muslims.’’ A man who answered a phone listed for the Vine Theater, a faded Hollywood movie house, confirmed the movie had run for a least a day, and possibly longer, several months ago, arranged by a customer known as ‘‘Sam.’’
Michael reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Esam Mohamed in Tripoli, Matthew Lee and Stephen Braun in Washington, Gillian Flaccus in Los Angeles, Joseph Federman in Jerusalem and Sarah El Deeb in Cairo contributed to this report.