Who is Sam Bacile? He has been described as the producer of the anti-Islam film that apparently helped precipitate attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya and Egypt. He represented himself in some media interviews as an Israeli-American who raised the money for his film from 100 Jewish donors.
But is who is this mysterious Bacile? Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches noted some suspicious inconsistencies in his self-descriptions.
Now The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg tracks down Steve Klein, a fellow who has been referred to as a consultant on the film. Klein, who says he is an acquaintance of the producer, says that "Sam Bacile" is a pseudonym. Klein, a self-described militant Christian activist from California, also says "Bacile" is not Israeli and likely not even Jewish, and suggests that most of those involved with making the film are actually evangelicals.
Here’s what Goldberg learned from Klein:
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 you tell 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."
I asked him who he thought Sam Bacile was. He said that there are about 15 people associated with the making of the film, "Nobody is anything but an active American citizen. They’re from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, they’re some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical."
What are we to make of Steve Klein’s assertions? I’m taking everything about this strange and horrible episode with a grain of salt, though I will say that I haven’t seen any proof yet that Sam Bacile is an actual Israeli Jew, or that the name is anything other than a pseudonym. More to come, undoubtedly.