Prize-winning journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic doubts the veracity of the reports that a film mocking Mohammed was made by an Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile. A long trailer for the film has sparked savage rioting in Arab countries.
Goldberg wrote Wednesday that he has spoken to a man named Steve Klein – "a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, California," who has been described in press accounts as a consultant to the film.
"Klein told me that Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish, as has been reported, and that the name is, in fact, a pseudonym," reported Goldberg.
Klein said the man who identified himself as Bacile asked him to help make the anti-Mohammed film. "When I asked him to describe Bacile," wrote Goldberg, "he said: 'I don't know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He's not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones (the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor) is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he's Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign.'"
"I asked him who he thought Sam Bacile was. He said that there are about 15 people associated with the making of the film, 'Nobody is anything but an active American citizen. They're from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, they're some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical.'"
The Israeli Latma website speculated Wednesday that the claims that the film was funded by a group of Jews were meant as disinformation and intended to deflect Muslim anger over the film at Israel.