Media for Christ group got permit for movie believed to be 'Innocence of Muslims'

A screenshot from a trailer for controversial anti-Islam film,
A screenshot from a trailer for controversial anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims."
sinahi tenurche/YouTube

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The organization that received the film permit for a movie believed to be the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” was Duarte, Calif.-based nonprofit advocacy group Media for Christ.

Karen Herrera, deputy city manager for the City of Duarte, told KPCC that Media for Christ received a permit last year for a movie called "Desert Warriors" through Film LA, an organization that gives film permits for the County of Los Angeles. Herrera said she was told that information from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department.

People involved in the film believe “Desert Warriors” later became “Innocence of Muslims.”

Meanwhile, the website The Smoking Gun reported Friday that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, another man connected to the film, became a government informant after his 2009 arrest for bank fraud.

Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih is the president for Media for Christ, which identifies itself as a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual aid and humanitarian assistance. Nassralla has been introduced at speaking events as a Coptic Christian and human rights activist from Egypt.

Last year, Nassralla participated in a demonstration asking for Sheriff Lee Baca to resign over his praise of the Council on American Islamic Relations, an Islamic civil liberties group.

“I fled to America with my family because of the violence directed against me for my Christian faith,” Nasralla said in an announcement published on Jihadwatch.org. “Sheriff Baca must be fired, and the County must apologize to all of us who have suffered at the hands of the Muslim brotherhood.”

KPCC made efforts to reach Media for Christ on Friday. Calls to the nonprofit’s office were not answered.

Permit confirmed

Paul Audley, president of Film LA, confirmed to KPCC on Friday that the permit was issued on Aug. 18, 2011. He referred further questions to the County of Los Angeles, which said it would not release the film permit due to safety concerns.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has also emerged as another local man involved in the film. Nakoula told the Associated Press that he was in charge of the film’s logistics.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched Friday to the Cerritos cul de sac where Nakoula lives to provide security. Several media trucks staked out the Nakoula residence, but no one has entered or exited the home.

Nakoula has a criminal past and was convicted for drugs and engaging in identity theft, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times also found an actor who received a check from Nakoula’s address for participating in the film.

It is unclear how "Innocence of Muslims" was funded. Media for Christ had revenues of more than $1 million last year, according to tax records.