Navigate to News section

Who Is Sam Bacile?

Conflicting reports about filmmaker who allegedly made anti-Muslim film

Adam Chandler
September 12, 2012

The identity of Sam Bacile, reportedly the creator of anti-Muslim film that caused a deadly firestorm Libya last night, remains a mystery. In reports earlier today, this is how Bacile was described:

Bacile, a California real estate developer in his fifties who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world. ”

“Islam is a cancer, period,” he repeatedly said in a solemn, accented tone.

Not so fast. According to a Times of Israel report, this may not be true.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had not heard of Sam Bacile and there was no record of him being a citizen.

This claim was later reinforced by Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic, who interviewed Steve Klein, who was a consultant on Bacile’s film. Klein, who (despite the name) is not Jewish, offered this:

He said the man who identified himself as Bacile asked him to help make the anti-Muhammad film. When I asked him to describe Bacile, he said: “I don’t know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He’s not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones (the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor) is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he’s Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.”

What’s immediately troubling about this revelation is that reports have now been up for hours claiming that the anti-Muhammed film, which sparked a riot that left four Americans dead, was written and directed by an Israeli-Jewish filmmaker and financed to the tune of $5 million by a group of “over 100 Jewish donors.” This assertion, which no longer seems verifiable, has been widely disseminated.

As more information comes in, we’ll post it.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.