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Few details on funds for anti-Islam movie

Christian group, salesman played role in its making

Steve Klein, a California salesman who has protested at mosques, was listed as promoter of the controversial film.

REUTERS

Steve Klein, a California salesman who has protested at mosques, was listed as promoter of the controversial film.

DUARTE, Calif. — The shared belief that radical Islam threatens the world brought together an ex-convict, an insurance salesman, and a Christian charity in production of a crudely crafted film that ridicules Muslims and the prophet Mohammed and has incited violent protests across the Middle East.

Media for Christ, a nonprofit that raised more than $1 million last year ‘‘to glow Jesus’ light’’ to the world, was listed as the production company for the film. Steve Klein, a California insurance salesman and Vietnam War veteran who has spent years protesting at mosques and espousing hatred of radical Muslims, acted as the film’s promoter.

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And Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who authorities said has used multiple names and was convicted of bank fraud, said he managed logistics for the film. Federal authorities have identified Nakoula as the key figure behind the film.

Nakoula was interviewed Saturday by US probation officers at a Los Angeles sheriff’s station in his hometown of Cerritos, Calif. He was not arrested or detained, authorities said.

Federal officials are investigating whether Nakoula violated the terms of his five-year probation. If so, a judge could send him back to prison. Nakoula pleaded no contest to bank fraud charges in 2010 and, as part of his sentence, he was banned from using computers or the Internet or using false identities.

A federal law enforcement official said authorities had connected Nakoula to a man using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile who claimed earlier to be writer and director of the film.

Most of ‘‘Innocence of Muslims’’ was shot in about two weeks in the warehouse that serves as the offices of Media for Christ, according to Eric Moers, who was chief electrician on the production.

What prompted Media for Christ’s involvement is not known because the organizations’ leaders have not spoken publicly. And much about the film remains a mystery, notably who financed it.

Media for Christ, which produces a program called ‘‘The Way TV,’’ reported spending nearly $650,000 on ‘‘TV recording production’’ in 2011.

The clumsily produced movie, which looks like a spoof, alternately portrays Mohammed as a fraud, a womanizer, and a child molester. Despite its poor production value, the film would have cost at least tens of thousands of dollars to make because of the equipment used and the professional actors and stage hands who were hired.

A film permit issued by Film LA could have cost under $1,000, although details are not known because the document has been sealed at the request of law enforcement officials.

Moers said the film took 15 to 16 days to shoot and 90 percent of the work was done at the Media for Christ studios. He said one day was spent at a movie ranch in Santa Clarita, and one day was spent filming at the home of the man he knew as Bacile.

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