The family of anti-Islam filmmaker goes in hiding
The family of the film producer who has inflamed Muslims worldwide has joined him in hiding, as more cast members say they were duped into making it.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and fraudster who was sentenced to 21 months in prison in June 2010, has not been seen since Saturday when he was questioned by his parole officer.
Before dawn on Monday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s department officers escorted four members of his family from their home to be driven in unmarked police vehicles to an undisclosed location to join him.
The four concealed their faces as they left the Los Angeles house, which has been besieged by news crews since Nakoula was linked to the amateurish film, Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womaniser, child molester and a ruthless killer.
Local website Patch identified the four as Nakoula’s wife, his two sons and a daughter.
“They decided they would be safer where they could move about and live a normal life,” said sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore, quoted by America’s ABC News.
“All we did was pick them up and reunite them with Mr Nakoula.”
Nakoula had been convicted of aggravated identity theft over a cheque fraud scheme that, according to prosecutors, used false names and social security numbers.
He spent about a year in prison before being released on parole.
US media have been speculating whether his involvement with the film has violated his parole terms.
Protests over a YouTube trailer for the anti-Islam film erupted last Tuesday in Egypt as well as in Libya where an armed mob attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The demonstrations, sometimes violent, later spread to other Muslim-majority nations in North Africa, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, clashes between protesters and police outside the US consulate left more than a dozen people injured and six others facing charges.
Meanwhile two more American actors have come forward to reveal the film’s anti-Islamic intentions had been concealed from the cast and crew.
Lily Dionne told CNN she signed on to the project, originally titled Desert Warrior, with a central character named George, in response to a casting notice on the Craigslist website.
Dionne, who had just arrived in Hollywood to pursue acting, said Nakoula appeared on set to be in total control of the project, to the point of arguing with the director at times.
“He had a vision … he wanted things a certain way,” she said.
“He knew what he was doing. He was playing us all along.”