The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, which left four Americans dead, including U.S. ambassador to Libya, was sparked by a short U.S.-made video mocking Islam’s founding prophet and promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones, who inspired deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 by first threatening to burn copies of the Quran and then burning one in his Gainesville church, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
The video gained international attention after it was publicized in the Egyptian media and Jones talked about it during his own proclamation of Sept. 11 as “International Judge Muhammad Day,” the newspaper reported.
In a statement Tuesday, Jones, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, called the film “an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam” and said it “further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad.”
He said the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Egypt and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, illustrated that Muslims “have no tolerance for anything outside of Muhammad” and called Islam “a total deception.”
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Tuesday's violence came on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was inspired by Egyptian media reports about a 14-minute trailer for the video, called “Innocence of Muslims,” that was released on the Web. The violence provoked by the video recalled the wave of rage and protest in 2005 that followed the publication of 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.
The trailer of the amateurish, U.S.-made video opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the movie trailer was uploaded to YouTube by Sam Bacile, whom the newspaper identified as a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer in California. Bacile told the Wall Street Journal that the video had been online since July and that he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film. He declined to identify the donors.
“Islam is a cancer,” Bacile told the newspaper. Bacile told the Journal he was responsible for the film -- an excerpt of which has been viewable online since July — saying he had raised $5 million to make it from about 100 Jewish donors, who he declined to identify.
The Israeli government moved quickly to distance Israel from Bacile. Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in a telephoned statement that “Nobody knows who he is. He is totally unknown in filmmaking circles in Israel. And anything he did — he is not doing it for Israel, or with Israel, or through Israel in any way.” Palmor also called Bacile “a complete loose cannon and an unspeakable idiot.”