WASHINGTON -- A Southern California man on probation for financial crimes was the key figure behind the anti-Islam film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press Thursday.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said authorities had concluded that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a follower of the Egypt-based Coptic Christian church, was behind "Innocence of Muslims," a film shot in 2011 that denigrated Islam and the prophet Muhammad. Video clips of the film posted on the Internet sparked outrage among Muslims.
Nakoula, of Cerritos, said in an interview Wednesday that he managed logistics for the film production company.
A leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, Bishop Serapion, said, "We condemn this film. We don't agree with this way of insulting others."
Egypt's Coptic Christians have long complained of discrimination and occasional violence from the country's Muslim majority.
American actors and actresses who appeared in "Innocence of Muslims" said in a joint statement Wednesday that they were misled about the project and alleged that some of their dialogue was crudely dubbed during postproduction.
Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution.