Libya killing: Questions raised about identity of CA-based "Muslims" filmmaker (updated)

Steven Anthony Klein

Courageous Christians United website

Steven Anthony Klein, of Hemet, has been the man most publicly associated with the anti-Islam film that is said to have incited the violence against the U.S. embassy in Libya. Four Americans, including the Ambassador, were killed.

Who is behind the anti-Muslim film that sparked the riot in Libya?

Short answer: We don't know yet.

In early coverage of the film, "Innocence of Muslims," that sparked violence that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, a few journalists appeared to have interviewed Sam Bacile, described as an Israeli who lived in California and a real estate developer who had raised $5 million to create the film. Turns out that there's reason to believe the name is a pseudonym and not a real person.

What we don't know is who actually created the film.

In the hours before journalist Jeffrey Goldberg's article in The Atlantic was published, we did our own public records search for any trace of a person named Sam Bacile. It has so far turned up nothing to indicate there is a real person with that name.

(UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that a Southern California Coptic Christian who had been convicted of financial crimes has acknowledged a role in managing and providing logistics for the production. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told an AP reporter he did not direct the film and that he knew Sam Bacile. The AP story notes that court documents list the name Nicola Bacily among Nakoulas' aliases.)

Another Southern California man has emerged as the spokesman for the film and proxy for Bacile — Steven Anthony Klein, a self-described consultant to the filmmaker.

This is what we know about Klein from public records and his presence on the Internet.

Klein, 61, lives in Hemet and runs an insurance company from his home. He's lived in Texas and Utah. While in Utah, he created papers for a group called Courageous Christians United and is listed as its secretary and founder. That group, in existence since at least 2007, attacks the tenets of the Mormon and Muslim religions, among others.

He also formed Concerned Christians for the First Amendment, which has an anti-Islam focus. Klein wrote a letter last year to Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich advising him of a protest of L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca's relationship with an Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, CAIR. Concerned Christians also held a public event in front of Murrieta Valley High School to pass out anti-Muslim flyers.

A Southern Poverty Law Center article says that Klein, a former Marine, believes California is filled with Muslim cells "who are awaiting the trigger date and will begin randomly killing as many of us as they can." Klein added, "I know I'm getting prepared to shoot back."

The article also says that Klein thinks L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca is "a Muslim Brotherhood patsy."

In 2004, Klein created a business called Middle East Experts Team, but it's unclear from the public record or Internet searches what that business did. He also holds a security guard license. He has no criminal record.

This story has been updated.

More in U.S. / World


blog comments powered by Disqus