The Man Who Caused Benghazi (Except Not Really)

If the delusional con man behind Innocence of Muslims can "spark" violence halfway around the word, who can't?


Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (one of many, many aliases)


is a criminal and a pathological con man who has trouble keeping track of his own lies. You could say he's so dishonest that he's even befuddled himself. His is a pitiful existence, barely surviving at a California homeless shelter, rarely working except for the occasional manual labor job. And yet, this is the man who members of the Obama administration have repeatedly blamed for "sparking" the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. 

Last week, The Daily Beast's M.L. Nestel published an in-depth profile of Nakoula, the writer and producer of perhaps the most notorious incoherent Youtube video of all time.

Nestel writes:

I'm talking about that YouTube short variously called "Innocence of Bin Laden," "Desert Warrior," "First Terrorist," "Innocence of Muslims"—and, in the iteration that was blamed for setting off riots around the globe, "Muhammad Movie Trailer." The one that portrayed the prophet as a sodomizing, womanizing pedophile. The one that Hillary Clinton was talking about when, according to the father of a Benghazi victim, she promised, "We are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of [your] son."

It was quite a claim for a movie directed by a porn veteran, produced by a convicted huckster, led by actors who claim they were duped into the roles, and promoted by a collection of anti-Islamic hatemongers and almost comically crackpot preachers.

Nestel describes Nakoula as "an Egyptian Coptic Christian with a pathetic criminal history (convictions for gas-pump price fixing, intent to manufacture meth, Social Security fraud) and a list of pseudonyms longer than the Suez Canal." Nestel concedes that after meeting with the man three times last October, "whether anything he told me is true remains to be seen…given his slipperiness about his criminal history and his documented record of lying about the Youtube film."

Indeed, Nakoula has had a hell of a time keeping his story straight about the film. To the Wall Street Journal, he said, "Islam is a cancer" but to CNN he insisted his film is not anti-Islam and that in fact, he could "never be against any religion." Nestel's entire article is worth reading for a lot of reasons, but perhaps more than any other is the window it provides into the world of a truly unremarkable and delusional putz who unwittingly affected the course of history. 

THIS is the guy who created a worse-than-public-access movie trailer which former US ambassador to the United Nations (and current National Security Advisor) Susan Rice repeatedly claimed had "sparked" not only the coordinated attack on the embassy in Benghazi, but also violence in places like Yemen and Pakistan, where only 10%-20% of the population has access to the internet.

The Republican-led hearings on Benghazi were a largely worthless grilling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but they did yield one important piece of evidence: emails from Clinton to her daughter Chelsea to the Egyptian prime minister on the night of the attack saying, "We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest."*

There's no need to re-litigate all the apologies for free speech, the pressure the administration put on Google to pull the video from Youtube, or all the willful misrepresntation of facts that came from the administration in the weeks following the attack. After all, what difference at this point does it make?

But Nestel's profile is a helpful reminder that all the calamities "sparked" by the short-sighted foreign policy actions of the most powerful nation on Earth can be swept under the rug if a convenient loser is available. It is far from impossible that another anti-Muslim bigot could put a stupid video up on Youtube, which an opportunistic imam can then use to gin up protests among his followers who almost certainly never saw it (not that such a thing happened in Benghazi).

If such hypothetical protests were to turn violent, the blueprint for how a US administration deals with the fallout is already available. 

*-Correction: Clinton also emailed her daughter Chelsea the night of the attack, writing that the embassy had been attacked by an "Al Queda-like group" (sic).

NEXT: Rand Paul's Iowa Hopes

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There’s no need to re-litigate all the apologies for free speech, the pressure the administration put on Google to pull the video from Youtube, or all the willful misrepresntation of facts that came from the administration in the weeks following the attack.

    I disagree.

  2. a worse-than-public-access movie trailer

    As opposed to the better-than-Mona-Lisa Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

      1. I think the proper term is Fisting up, but ok.

    1. I don’t think any of them have ever seen a Neil Breen movie.

      1. Or a Uwe Bill one.

  3. You could say he’s so dishonest that he’s even befuddled himself.

    You know who else is so dishonest that he’s even befuddled himself?

    1. Hillary Clinton?

    2. Oh, y’all.

    3. Bill Clinton? Oops — I guess he didn’t befuddle himself, just a blue dress.

    4. I was thinking of this guy ?. Yeah, *that’s* who I was thinking of!

    5. The Man Who Sold The World?

  4. Can we quit blaming Benghazi on a filmmaker who doesn’t deserve it, and start blaming it on a filmmaker who does deserve it? Like Michael Bay.

    1. Michael Bay: a filmmaker so terrible he warps the spacetime continuum.

    2. Maybe we could blame the Secretary of State who stored above Top Secret documents on a server in a dry cleaner? The one who sent Chris Stevens’ travel and security plans from the unsecured server via unencrypted email to Sid Blumenthal who’s private email was hacked.

      She might bear a bit of responsibility.

  5. This is just one of many incidents that illuminate the cognitive dissonance of Western apologists for Islam.

    On the one hand it’s supposedly a “religion of peace” and no more prone to violence than any other. (“Buwuddabout the Crusades??”) On the other hand, no one should ever say anything that might upset Muslims, because some of them will then kill people.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    1. This article explains the range of Muslims from ISIS to “moderates”. It all just depends where they fall on the “Caliphate Curve.”…..curve.html

      1. Thanks. Good link.

    2. Actually it doesn’t illustrate that at all. This has nothing at all to do with Muslims and everything to do with the State Department’s craven ass-covering. I appreciate your attempt to shoehorn your xenophobia into every conversation though. I pity the Starbucks baristas that take your order.

      1. Yes, but the State Department covered its ass by saying that the guy was responsible for the riots, which only makes sense if a reasonable person would expect Muslims to go into mindless homicidal berserker frenzies when some nobody halfway across the planet insults them on the internet. Whether true or not, that is implicitly State’s position.

      2. Not a fan, huh? Disliking a totalitarian movement doesn’t make me a “xenophobe,” asshole.

  6. As I said in the CU thread, we clearly need licensing restrictions on the 1A. Too many people get hurt when we allow just anyone to say whatever they want. Maybe a panel of experts, like that of the FCC, would be best. As experts, they’re only in it for the common good and are really smart. How could anyone be against experts but for assault speech?

    1. Is that the kind with the thing that goes up?

  7. So the guy only did a *trailer* for a movie, and got arrested for “intent” to manufacture meth? This guy does NOT know how to follow through.

  8. This points to yet another critical difference between Bill and Hill.

    Charisma is essential for a presidential candidate. Everybody who is paying attention knows that, whereas Bill was exceptionally charismatic during his run, Hillary has none, and actually exudes negative charisma.

    Less well recognized is the ability to concoct a believable narrative to obscure the truth from the hoi polloi. Bill was an “exceptionally talented liar” in the words of a fellow Democrat, though even he couldn’t get around DNA evidence. Hillary does not have Bill’s talents at persuasive prevarication. Her lies are clunky and incongruous with reality.

    1. You would think that with so much practice, she would be really good at it by now.

  9. “it provides into the world of a truly unremarkable and delusional putz who unwittingly affected the course of history. ”

    Am I picking nits when I argue he did not unwittingly alter the course of history? That unscrupulous politicians pointed to him while attempting to alter past history?

  10. Wasn’t there someone here who said they looked at the video during the early minutes of the violence, and it had 180 views? Yes, I believe a random anonymous commenter before I believe a state department official.

    1. Having actually viewed the godawful video, I fail to see how anyone could actually be inspired to violence. The filmmaking just caused nausea for me.

      If that video could cause a riot/attack, any 6-year-old with a crayon who knows how to write “Mohammed” could too.

  11. but perhaps more than any other is the window it provides into the world of a truly unremarkable and delusional putz who unwittingly affected the course of history.

    The guy’s a putz. So. Fucking. What?

    And how the fuck did he “affect the course of history”. It’s patently obvious the administration knew from the moment it happened that it was a terrorist attack. Unless you want to pretend the planned terrorist attack somehow wouldn’t have happened other than for his movie, how would history be changed? Or are you suggesting that an administration willing to throw the blame on this guy would have somehow magically took responsibility had this guy not existed?

    The story here is, or at least should be, that the U.S. government – Ms. Clinton, in particular – was willing to throw somebody in jail who didn’t really deserve it in order to preserve the charade of what they knew was a lie. Sure, today it’s somebody we all know is a putz. What about tomorrow? Maybe it’ll be some loon who mouthed off on the internet about throwing judges in woodchippers.

    1. The attack at Benghazi was just two months before the 2012 election — maybe “affect the course of history” means that Obama was covering the administrations ass, affecting the outcome of the election.

  12. Sham Outrage

    /prog bored with fake scandal

  13. Yeah, nobody invested in this supposed scandal gives a shit about free speech. I’ve been waiting for years for someone to explain the wrongdoing that is alleged here and that has motivated more congressional scrutiny than 9/11/2001.

    1. If Congress spent all of its time scrutinizing the executive branch, the country would probably be better off.

    2. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I completely agree.

      Off to take my meds.

    3. You disingenuous little turd – I spelled out EXACTLY what the wrongdoing was.

  14. Well, the thing is, there were riots and protests over the video. Not the attack on the consulate, but in other places.

    That’s the thing about Islam – it’s completely nuts and literally goes berserk when muslims feel they are being insulted.

    Did they actually see the video? No, but they heard rumors about it and thought it was a real Hollywood movie, not a crappy trailer.

    Rumors can spread quite easily without the internet. Remember the Rod Stewart story or Richard Gere and the gerbil. Did those need the internet? Yet everyone has heard them.

    1. Would anyone have actually heard about this if not for the free advertising given by the executive branch?

    2. And given the predilection of many Middle Eastern locales for conspiracy theories, and their willingness to believe just about anything that supports these, that tendency to go beserk is definitely a factor. Though the trailer producing miscreant was just a handy little scapegoat for the former SOS. Which in itself says a lot about her willingness to toss anyone off the train and under the bus to cover her substantial ass.*

      *which reminds me of the comment by Jennifer Flowers; while she [Jennifer] could easily pose for Playboy, Hill could never do this as no centerfold could possibly accommodate her ass. That is not the exact quote but the gist of it.

  15. I hate to say it but I actually admire some of his cons. I mean seriously tricking people to act in your movie and pretending it’s not against islam. That deserves some credit. I don’t get why so much contempt for the guy. Try making your own movie trailer and see if it’s any better.

  16. It is certainly delusional to believe an obscure YouTube video would so easily incite homicidal jihadi violence halfway around the world amongst a population who never saw it, unless the video is supposedly an ISIS recruitment video because, according to media reports, thousands upon thousands of seemingly normal young adults in the US and Europe become self radicalized jihadis with homicidal rage due to ISIS social media propaganda.

  17. Looking back on this it’s hard to believe it was even necessary to point out that a youtube video was not the source of the violence. It seems the dishonesty fo some of the actors in the US government has been mostly memory holed at this point.

    If only there were safeguards to protect the foundation of the republic.

    In order that the mortar in the joints may not suffer from frosts, drench it with oil-dregs every year before winter begins. Thus treated, it will not let the hoarfrost enter it. ? De architectura

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.