Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
The Innocence of Muslims affair (incident? incidents?) has become a fast moving story that seems to get more fantastical the more that gets reported. It is now pretty clear that Sam Bacile is not an Israeli, Israeli American, or even Jewish. Bacile is, apparently, a pseudonym for a Nakoula Basselly Nakoula - who appears to be an Egyptian emigre and was involved in this project with a number of naturalized American Copts and native born American Evangelicals. Members of the cast have clearly indicated that the film was supposed to be/originally about Coptic persecution and was overdubbed in both English and Arabic with the anti-Islamic dialogue that has led to some serious problems in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen including the death of four American foreign service personnel. The thirteen minute clip, posted to You Tube in July, began to gather interest over the past several days due to its being promoted by both Quran burning advocate Terry Jones and Egyptian-American Copt Morris Sadek. The fatal anti-American violence in Libya may have partially been the result of various media and extremist movement sources claiming that the video had been produced for the 9-11 remembrances and was being widely shown on American TV on that day.
While the story will continue to undergo change over the next several days as more facts come to light, the real issues are how does the US adjust its strategies and policies in the Middle East in response to these activities. It also demonstrates very clearly that no matter what America's official positions, messaging, and actions are they can all be overcome by events regardless of whether they are unofficial messaging being transmitted by Americans - official or otherwise or the activities of the actual actors on the ground in the Middle East.
*Adam L. Silverman, PhD is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.