Americans died in the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, and those who
survived saw their stories of heroism told in a Hollywood movie, but the
filmmaker whose work was wrongly blamed for touching off the event
lives in obscurity, poverty and fear, FoxNews.com has learned.
Basseley Nakoula, the Coptic Christian whose short video “The Innocence
of Muslims” was initially faulted for sparking the Sept. 11, 2012
terror attack at U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya, is now living in a
homeless shelter run by First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park,
Calif. He has served time in prison, been shamed publicly by the White
House and threatened with death.
Nakoula, seen here with the Rev. Wiley S. Drake, lives in a homeless shelter. (FoxNews.com)
“I don’t believe in democracy anymore,” Nakoula told FoxNews.com. “I don’t think there is such a thing as freedom of speech.”
the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, President Obama and
then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seized on the anti-Islamist film
as the cause of a spontaneous protest that turned violent. U.S.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information
Management Officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen
Doherty were killed when armed terrorists laid siege to the compound
and set it ablaze.
The story was told in the Michael Bay-directed film "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi," which starred John Krasinski.
Nakoula, seen here in 2013 being escorted out of his home in Cerritos, Calif., lives under constant threat. (Reuters)
video trailer, posted online and credited to “Sam Bacile,” mocked the
Islamic prophet Mohammad – depicting him as everything from a bozo and
womanizer to predator and homosexual. Although Obama and Clinton were
later forced to acknowledge that the attack was an organized assault by
Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, Nakoula was soon charged with eight counts
of probation violation, jailed without bail and deemed a “danger to the
Nakoula had previously been convicted of charges relating
to bank and credit fraud, and federal prosecutors found his use of the
Internet to post the video violated his terms of probation.
who is in his late fifties and has been in the U.S since 1984, declined
to elaborate on his post-jail experiences, but said he plans to write a
book about his ordeal.
For now, he deferred queries to the Rev. Wiley
S. Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church. In August 2013,
Nakoula was relocated from prison to a halfway house – a kind of house
arrest although it’s a government facility – to serve out the remainder
of his time, and a year later was released into Drake’s custody. For the
past three years, Nakoula has been living at the homeless shelter on
Drake, an Arkansas native who ran as an independent
for the Presidential nomination in 2008 and again for 2016, said he
sought out the controversial filmmaker in 2013 because he had grave
concerns for the future of democracy in the United States.
to find out what was really going on,” Drake told FoxNews.com. “They
accused Nakoula of causing Benghazi, but it could not have been further
from the truth.”
According to Drake, the federal government was
concerned about the potential threats at the halfway house due to
Nakoula’s presence, and agreed to release him to the church. Amid the
hoopla sparked by his film and the finger-pointing, Nakoula indeed
became a hot target for Islamic fatwas. In 2012, an Egyptian court
sentenced him – in absentia – to death for defaming the religion and a
Pakistani minister issued a $100,000 reward to have him killed.
said that they have received a few anonymous phone threats – the last
being about a year ago – but he refuses to back down.
“I have purposely not hidden that Nakoula is here,” he continued. “I’m not afraid of anything.”
Davis, director of security management at the church, stressed that
they take Nakoula’s precarious position as a “high value target” very
seriously and said the church has well-trained personnel should any
external threats arise.
“I talk to him on a regular basis, check he
isn’t being followed,” Davis said. “It is hard to know how far the enemy
– radical Islam – will push things.”
Nakoula remains under the
supervision of the federal government, so he will likely be at the
Church for at least another year. The average stay at the shelter is a
few months, enough time for most to “get back on their feet,” said
Kenneth Timmerman, author of “Deception: The Making of the
YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed For Benghazi,” asserts that
Nakoula was ultimately “the first victim of Islamic Sharia blasphemy
laws in the United States.”
“He was collateral damage, as were the
actors and actresses who became subject to death threats and fatwas,”
Timmerman said. “Nakoula takes the fatwas seriously because he
understands they are still active and cannot be rescinded.”
also noted that from time to time he receives phone calls from different
people at the State Department checking in on how Nakoula is faring,
and while Drake typically gives a vanilla answer, he is concerned for
his future. Nakoula has worked various part-time jobs at a pizza parlor
and more recently driving for Uber, but as soon as people make the
connection between him and Benghazi, work dries up.
“So we have put
him to work here,” Drake said. “And he has transportation now so he can
go and visit his family nearby, but he wants to keep them safe and out
of the spotlight.”
It was revealed in last year’s House Select
Committee hearings on Benghazi that, despite public proclamations
otherwise, Clinton was well aware that the attacks were well-crafted and
not spurred by “The Innocence of Muslims.”
According to Kris “Tanto”
Paronto, one of the CIA security contractors and survivors of the
Benghazi mayhem, the first he heard of the infamous movie or even
protests was about 36 hours after the attack.
“I was in Germany
recovering and had just woken up and I saw [U.S. Ambassador to the UN]
Susan Rice mention it as the cause. Honestly, my first thoughts were
that this was typical for this administration – spinning the truth,” he
told FoxNews.com. “Even then we knew that it was Al Qaeda, and this
incident would crush the narrative that we had terrorism under control.”
Paronto stressed that “Innocence of Muslims” played no part in Benghazi, and that the attack was well planned in advance.
knew when the ambassador was going to be there and they knew there
would be no response when they attacked,” he continued. “He was a
high-value target that was vulnerable and they exploited this
opportunity to attack the consulate.”
Sources close to Nakoula say he
was indeed “proud” of the film’s content, and has no reservations in
continuing his outspoken stance against the Islamic religion when the
timing is right. Drake however, noted that Nakoula has expressed some
regret – not for the film’s controversial content – but for the trouble
and stress it ultimately caused.
“If I could go back, I would do it
again,” he told FoxNews.com three years ago from prison. “Everybody gets
hurt in this culture. We need the world free of this culture. We have
to fight it.”
The U.S State Department declined a request for further comment.