The New York Times says it got questions to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in federal custody and, with his comments plus interviews with "church and law enforcement officials and more than a dozen people who worked on the movie," can conclude that "the making of the film is a bizarre tale of fake personas and wholesale deception."
And as with almost everything touched over the years by Mr. Nakoula — a former gas station manager, bong salesman, methamphetamine ingredient supplier and convicted con man — it is almost impossible to separate fact from fabrication....
Mr. Nakoula, who described himself to some cast members as the writer and producer, explained to a confidant that his plan was to fool actors into thinking they were making a movie built around an ancient tribal villain named George, dubbing in the name “Muhammad” later whenever anybody said “George.”
As early as 2008, he had cobbled together a 20-page treatment for a film he wanted to call “The First Terrorist.”
The amateurish project might have disappeared quietly, the way many forgettable messes do in Hollywood’s underbelly. Yet three years after completing his script treatment, Mr. Nakoula was on a makeshift movie set inside the suburban Los Angeles headquarters of a nonprofit organization called Media for Christ, whose founder has been critical of Islam. There Mr. Nakoula was surrounded by actors wearing false beards, and there was a goat slipping on a tile floor. Alongside him was his director for hire: Alan Roberts, known for soft-core pornography movies like “The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood.”
Mr. Nakoula noted that the head of Media for Christ, Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, was “a friend for five years.” Mr. Abdelmasih attended the 2010 protests against the Islamic center near ground zero. Other contacts in the world of anti-Islam activism would also play pivotal roles. Helping to publicize the film were Morris Sadek and Elaia Basily — activist Copts living in Northern Virginia — and Terry Jones, the Florida preacher whose own Koran burnings had stirred violence abroad.
That Mr. Nakoula is a hard man to pin down is no accident....
This NYT story takes six bylines and credit lines.