The Mohammed Movie: Blasphemy, Defamation, and Insult
The Long Hot Arab Summer began in Cairo on September 11, 2012, with a demonstration in front of the American embassy. Over the next few days numerous other cities across the world — not just in Islamic countries, but in Europe, Canada, Australia, and even Japan — followed suit.
The OIC and the media would have us believe that those Islamic days of rage were a spontaneous outburst of Muslim indignation over a blasphemous movie about Mohammed. Yet this battlefield had actually been prepared well in advance.
The current form of the conflict began to take shape in late 2005 (that crucial year!) and early 2006, during the Mohammed cartoon crisis. The Muslim world did not spontaneously combust the moment the “Turban Bomb” was first published in Jyllands-Posten, but waited four months before taking to the streets to loot, burn, bomb, and murder. The mayhem was carefully instigated by a pair of Danish imams, who added three fake cartoons — more incendiary than the real ones — to the original twelve, and went on a tour of the Middle East with their portfolio to stir up the righteous indignation of faithful Muslims. The results are well-known.
The Danish cartoon affair was a great success from a Muslim standpoint. Western leaders fell all over themselves to deplore the cartoons. Most of them condemned the artists and the newspaper for their “abuse” of free speech. Although the cartoons spread virally on the internet, only a few major media outlets were willing to display the drawings that caused all the commotion. Newspapers and TV networks in the United States — which is supposedly a model for the world’s free press — were particularly craven in this regard. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood got its wish: “defamation” of Islam was effectively suppressed.
But Islam needed more. To ensure that “disrespect” for Islam and its prophet is driven completely out of the public square, the OIC insisted that Western governments must pass laws criminalizing the “defamation of religions”. Since — as Maj. Stephen Coughlin has irrefutably demonstrated — Muslims recognize only one religion, and consider all religions earlier than Islam abrogated, these laws are obviously aimed at smothering any critical discussion about Islam, and Islam only.
The Mohammed cartoon crisis serves as a useful model for bringing pressure to bear. On one flank is the appeal to the politically correct Western conscience, using freedom of religion, respect for minorities, tolerance, etc. as cattle prods to induce compliance with shariah-based strictures against “insulting” Islam and its prophet. On the other flank is the constant, unremitting subliminal threat of intense violence, which everyone now realizes may be expected whenever non-Muslims approach the boundary walls that confine discussions about Islam. These two inducements — carrot and stick, if you will — have served to shut down nearly all shariah-proscribed speech in any prominent Western media.
After the Motoon affair, there remained only the formalization of the new arrangements under statutory law. The greatest obstacle to the full submission of the West is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which clearly protects speech that criticizes Islam, no matter how much it might offend Muslims.
For several years prominent Muslim leaders have been discussing the “test of consequences” as a subterfuge to enforce shariah-compliant speech codes in Western societies. Liberal democracies generally recognize incitement to violence as an exception that is not a constitutionally protected form of speech. Our traditions define “incitement” to mean any direct exhortation to commit violence in the immediate future, but the Islamic “test of consequences” would turn that definition on its head. If someone engages in a non-violent form of communication — say, drawing a cartoon or writing a book — and that act is so insulting that it serves to stimulate such great anger in a group of people that they commit violence, then, using the “test of consequences”, the non-violent expression may be said to have indirectly caused the violence, and thus may be proscribed.
Most Western politicians and media commentators have already adopted the new shariah-based restrictions on (formerly) free speech, ritually condemning those who draw Mohammed cartoons or burn Korans or do anything else which makes Muslims angry enough to burn, rape, murder, and loot. It requires only a modest additional push — an incident involving such vile and despicable behavior that even First Amendment enthusiasts will fall silent in the face of updated speech codes — to bring the necessary legislative change.
Fast-forward to July, 2011. Two incidents, coincidentally occurring exactly one week apart, demonstrated the direction in which the new shariah-compliant wind was blowing. The first one was the summit meeting on July 15 between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in Istanbul, which launched the “Istanbul Process”. The intention of the two principals was to implement the legislative results required by UN Resolution 16/18 within the Western democracies. In a historic speech, Mrs. Clinton laid out some of the means by which the new tolerant, respectful, and non-defamatory behaviors could be inculcated in Western cultures:
This was a clear call to realize the “test of consequences”: to identify certain peaceful expressions of a free people as “incendiary”. The next step would be to identify and “shame” those who engage in such “incendiary” activities, thus putting their expressions beyond the pale of acceptable behavior.
In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance. We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
Exactly a week later, Anders Behring Breivik donned his police uniform, picked up his rifle, and murdered 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utøya. For several months afterwards it seemed that Mr. Breivik’s actions might provide the necessary “test of consequences” that would usher in a new era of Western compliance with Resolution 16/18.
But it turned out not to be enough, not in the United States, anyway — which is where the major tectonic shift is required. The European Union already has sufficient administrative justification for the necessary legislation in the “Framework Decision”, which has had the force of law since it went into effect two years ago.
This background information sets the scene for the events of September 11, 2012. The fulfillment of the Istanbul Process required an example of such egregious abuse of the First Amendment that the “test of consequences” exception could be successfully inserted into the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The movie Innocence of Muslims seemed to be exactly what was needed.
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I will assume that readers are familiar with the movie Innocence of Muslims and the violent events in Cairo and Benghazi on 9-11-2012. The initial cover story — that the riots and arson and murder represented a “spontaneous outpouring of Muslim rage at the blasphemous movie about the Prophet Mohammed” — became threadbare within the space of 72 hours. The mayhem was so obviously prepared well in advance that even the talking heads on the network news could take the official line at face value for only a short time.
The big question, of course, is: “Who planned the Islamic Days of Rage, and for what purpose?” The Muslim Brotherhood does not instruct its adherents to riot just for the heck of it, and, as demonstrated above, the Ikhwan is now in full partnership with the administration of Barack Hussein Obama and the American intelligence services. It is not unreasonable to assume that the coordinated response of the “Arab Street” was a joint operation, planned and executed to achieve the purposes of both the Obama administration and the new Salafist rulers of most of the Middle East.
The rest of this discussion will be divided into two different threads, one concerning the violence of the “Muslim street”, ostensibly in response to the Mohammed movie, and the other examining the events at the consulate in Benghazi on the night of September 11.
Before we dive into the murky waters of complete speculation, let’s list some of the known facts for both threads of this fictional narrative:
The Mohammed movie
- The demonstration in front of the American embassy in Cairo began as a demand to free the “Blind Sheikh”, Omar Abdel-Rahman, from prison in the United States.
- Initial reports identified the man behind the movie as “Sam Bacile, an Israeli Jew”.
- By the morning of Thursday September 13, a “U.S. law enforcement official” had leaked the true identity of Bacile, a Copt named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. According to court records, Mr. Nakoula had been convicted and sentenced for credit card fraud several years previously, and had earlier been charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
- Not long afterwards, further leaks revealed that Mr. Nakoula had become a government informant after his arrest for fraud.
- Over the weekend he was brought in for questioning by the feds on the possibility that he had violated probation, which had been granted him “on condition that he did not access the internet or use aliases”. Towards the end of the month a judge ordered that he be held without bail, with his next appearance in court postponed until after the presidential election.
- He was released from a halfway house in December 2010
- The film was made in August 2011 and released in June 2012.
- Nothing more was heard of it until a subtitled version of the trailer was released in 2012.
- The makers of the movie were in touch with Pastor Terry Jones, who helped promote the movie on September 11.
- After the violence and uproar began, at least one actress in the film said that she had no idea that the movie was about Islam, that the name “Mohammed” was never mentioned in the script, and that the references to Islam and the prophet were dubbed over during post-production. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nakoula.
- The American Muslim offered its own interesting theories about who was really behind the Mohammed movie, maintaining that the “Islamophobes” of the Counterjihad were responsible for the insults and blasphemy. Its list of suspects was virtually identical to the roster that was so conveniently included in Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto.
The attack on the consulate in Benghazi
- On the night of the attack which killed four Americans in the CIA “safe house”, the Obama administration and the media promoted the fabricated story that the attack was a spontaneous response to the Mohammed movie. The media stuck to this story for several more days, until the evidence against it made it untenable. The White House continued to maintain the same line for about two weeks, until it was forced to concede that it was a planned attack by Islamic terrorists.
- Ambassador Stevens had been the liaison between the CIA and the Libyan rebels, including elements of Al Qaeda, for the importation of weapons that would later help overthrow the regime of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. After the new government was installed, it is alleged that the ambassador was tasked with finding the remaining weapons and negotiating with the same groups to get them out of Libya. Some reports say the intended destination for the weapons was Syria, where Salafist rebels (including elements of Al Qaeda) are fighting to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It is further alleged that the Turkish government was covertly assisting the passage of such weaponry into Syria.
- On the night of September 11, before he was killed, Ambassador Stevens met with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin at the consulate in Benghazi.
- After the attack on the consulate began, CIA operatives repeatedly requested that American military assets be mobilized to intervene and rescue the ambassador and his companions in the safe house. Those requests were refused, and the CIA operatives were ordered to “stand down”. Some of them disobeyed orders and went in to assist the besieged Americans. Two were killed by mortar fire in the ensuing battle.
- The White House denied knowing any of the above until a group of emails was leaked to Fox News, proving that full real-time information on events in Benghazi had been fed to the Situation Room from the moment the attack began. Since then, up until this writing, the news of these emails has been largely absent from major media outlets, with the exception of Fox.
Such is the factual mess that we are left to sort through. Untangling it will require the judicious application of speculative fiction. A narrative will be constructed that fits the facts as closely as possible, but there is no guarantee that it is the correct narrative, and there may well be other narratives that fit all the facts just as closely.
First of all, the blasphemous Mohammed movie was a set-up.
The OIC and the Muslim Brotherhood required that the United States find a way to criminalize the defamation of Islam, despite the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights. Innocence of Muslims was contrived to do exactly that — it was guaranteed to cause maximum offense to Muslims, and yet was so artistically dreadful that it would find no one who would defend it as a serious and meaningful work of art.
In our fictional account, the production of the movie and the release of the trailer were coordinated at the highest levels of the federal government with the Muslim Brotherhood and the OIC. Presumably both the State Department and the intelligence services were involved.
Mr. Nakoula was let off lightly from his fraud charge on condition that he act as a federal informant, and given the specific task of producing a movie whose funding would be laundered in such a way as to disguise its origins. He drew on his experience and connections in the porn industry to help him do the job. He was either handed a script or given an outline to work with.
By the time shooting began, the cast of the movie would have been well aware of what happens to Westerners who do things that insult Islam. No actor with any sense would have taken a part in the movie as represented by the final cut that was eventually uploaded to YouTube. Thus all mention of Mohammed or Islam was kept out of the script during production, and the necessary words and phrases were dubbed in afterwards by Mr. Nakoula and those associates who were also in on the plot.
Pastor Terry Jones’ Koran-burning activities the previous year had made it clear that he was the single most effective anti-shariah activist in the United States, and possibly in the entire West. Anything he does that insults Islam is guaranteed to bring hundreds of thousands of angry Muslims into the streets to burn and loot and vandalize. Thus the information about the Mohammed movie was fed to him deliberately, so that he would be promoting it on the same day that the riots were scheduled for. His participation cranked up the resulting outrage by at least an order of magnitude.
As a final touch, disinformation about “Sam Bacile” was also leaked to Mr. Jones and others. The fact that the maker of the movie was said to be a Jew, and that the funding for its production was reputed to come from American Jewish sources, was guaranteed to raise the anger of the Arab street to incandescent levels. The eventual revelation of the Coptic connection was an ingenious fillip, seamlessly channeling Muslim anger towards Christians, especially Egyptian Christians, and keeping the Days of Rage going indefinitely.
Mr. Nakoula was not aware that he was assigned the part of sacrificial lamb in this ritual drama. A stint in the federal Witness Protection Program was probably the worst that he expected to happen. When he finally gets his day in court — if indeed he ever does — the trial transcript may prove interesting.
The movie (or more likely, just the trailer) was kept in the can until the Muslim Brotherhood considered the occasion ripe for exploitation. To suit the purposes of all the players, it needed to be before the presidential election in the United States. September 11 was chosen as an appropriately symbolic moment.
As the day approached, the pump was primed by pointing out the existence of the trailer to an Egyptian fanatic who was also a TV personality. The Arabic-subtitled version that emerged was guaranteed to arouse the necessary rage in the Muslim street.
The set-up served multiple purposes from the point of view of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had already publicly demanded the release of the Blind Sheikh. The coordinated demonstrations all over the world — with the requisite amount of violence, murder, rape, and mayhem — would not only provide a pretext for cracking down on “insults” to a religion, it would also give Mr. Morsi a bargaining chip to trade for the release of Sheikh Abdel-Rahman — “Give the sheikh to us, and we’ll make sure the riots stop.”
President Obama has shown himself to be risk-averse over the past four years, and the eruption of Muslim violence on the eve of the election is not something he would have deliberately agreed to. Therefore we may assume that he and his immediate staff were unaware of what was being planned.
But the highest reaches of the State Department are another matter. Knowing that the most powerful global financial figures wanted Obama out of office so that the Crash could occur under a Republican administration, and knowing the most likely politician to take charge in an eventual one-party state during the resulting national emergency, our fictional State Department would be more than happy to help implement the Ikhwan’s plan.
After the election was over, during President Obama’s lame-duck phase, the sheikh would be released. Any political harm to other Democrats would be very temporary, what with the Crash waiting in the wings to wipe the slate clean.
This is why the White House handled the crisis so ineptly from the moment the riots began. The obsequiousness towards Muslims was the knee-jerk response to be expected from this president and his entourage, but it didn’t play all that well with the public at large. Carefully leaked snippets of information that made Mr. Obama look even worse helped push him down the path that he was required to take.
But Benghazi was another matter entirely. No Americans were supposed to get killed on the night of September 11. An incident like the assault on the safe house can easily spin out of control and generate unpredictable and politically damaging results for everyone involved — as indeed it has.
The events surrounding the attack are still so murky that it’s too early to concoct a definitive “most likely” scenario. It’s possible that the State Department was expecting a demo in Benghazi, one that would be like all the others, which is why the cover story was issued and clung to so tenaciously.
In any case, it seems fairly certain that the United States, acting through the CIA, was coordinating the roundup of weapons held by Libyan militias and organizing their shipment to Syria, with the connivance of the Turks.
But something went wrong. One possible explanation is that the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has a sophisticated and capable intelligence service that operates very effectively throughout the region, had learned of the CIA’s Benghazi gig well in advance. Iran has a history of co-opting Sunni assets in the Middle East, and the “turning” of one or more groups of mujahideen in eastern Libya would have been child’s play for the mullahs. All it would take is enough cash to outbid the CIA and a secure pipeline into the terrorist networks. Persuading Libyan terrorist groups to blow up Americans is probably not all that difficult.
It’s also possible that an Iran-sponsored hostage-taking was intended, rather than murder, but the Ambassador was accidentally killed instead of being captured.
If either scenario involving Iran is true, it explains the current state of affairs: the shipment of weapons was disrupted, the CIA’s operation was exposed, and Mrs. Clinton has publicly repudiated the most prominent ally of the United States within the Syrian rebel alliance.
In this fictional narrative, Iranian intelligence scored a big success. The three major figures crouching in our allegorical closet failed to achieve their goals.
Barack Obama’s chances for re-election have declined even further.
The political prospects for a number of major players among the Democrats — including Hillary Clinton — are a bit dicey at the moment. Everyone is practicing CYA and pointing fingers at each other, and when the little game of musical chairs is over, a number of prominent figures will be left without a seat.
The Muslim Brotherhood will probably fail to gain the release of the Blind Sheikh. Nor will it succeed in gutting the First Amendment any time soon.
In fact, Americans may well owe the survival of their First Amendment rights to the deadly machinations of the mullahs in Tehran.
Life is full of ironies.
Tomorrow: Part 5, Tying up the Loose Ends