When you think about the furore over the anit-Islam movie, “Innocence of Muslims”, that culminated in the killing of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens this past week, think Egypt.
Why? Because all the main players are Egyptian and what is at stake is Egypt itself. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih are both Egyptian, And of course Aymen al-Zawahiri, the current head of al-Qaeda, is Egyptian. His terrorist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad evolved in Egypt in opposition to Hosni Mubarak, whom they tried to assasinate, and it finally merged with Osama Bin Laden’s operation.
More details are emerging about the Coptic Christians Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the faux Hebrew formerly known as Sam Bacile. As well as making this bigoted film, he has convicted fraudster and meth-cooker on his resume, according to the Daily Beast. His presumed financier, Egyptian-American, Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, is president of the Duarte, CA based charity Media for Christ. These guys probably think that they are the hottest coptic thing to come out of the Egyptian desert since St. Augustine.
So what’s with all the Jew juju? Nakoula, aka Sam Bacile, claimed he was an Israeli Jew and told the Wall Street journal that his film was funded by Jewish donors. In addition, the 14 minute film has Jews insulting Islam and the prophet, not Christians, despite the fact that there were plenty of Christians–Coptic Christians, in fact–running around in the 6th century, when the Prophet Mohamed was alive. One of the more ridiculous moments of a very insulting film has a 120 year old lady with the accent of an American Jewish grandmother cursing Islam prior to being torn asunder by muslim thugs. Of course the whole Jewish thang unravelling for Nakoula. The Israelis said there is no Citizen named Sam Bacile, Jewish or otherwise.
It seems these good ole Christian boys were following a time-honored tradition favored by both inquisitors and monarchs looking to clear their debt-books alike: Just blame it on the Jews. It appears Nakoula was looking to incite muslims to some sort of retaliatory radical act. The situation seems to suggest a radical act in Egypt against Israelis or Jews.
Was Nakoula trying to incite an Israeli intervention in Egypt? Perhaps hoping that a Lebanese phalangist-style Coptic Christian militia would join them in deposing the Muslim Brotherhood and driving elected president Mohamed Morsi from power? At the very least, pulling out the old chestnut of retaliating against Jewish targets, would likely provoke a reaction from Israel, or at least provide the muslim word with a traditional scapegoat and perhaps force Morsi to appear more radical than he is, in order to appease an inflamed base.
The Daily Beast, in an excellent article on this topic, quotes A Southern Christian Poverty Law Center article, which references Steve Klein, the anti-Islam film’s American born consultant: “In the Intelligence Report in the spring of 2012, Klein stated that California is riddled with Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cells “who are awaiting the trigger date and will begin randomly killing as many of us as they can.” So you see, the American Christian has a thing for the Muslim Brotherhood too.
Meanwhile back at the Foundation HQ, we have Ayman al-Zawahiri who is not connected in any way with the Muslim Brotherhood, daydreaming about doing one such attack, to coincide with 9/11. In an added wrinkle to the emerging Egyptian profile, Ayman’s little bro’, Mohammed Zawahiri, has been swanning around Egypt since he got out of prison in March, styling himself as reformed and a potential intermediary between the West and Islam. You see, he’s renounced violence, perhaps in the same way Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has renounced meth, yet he was involved in the storming of the US Embassy in Cairo on September 12.
Whatever their motive of the Copts and their American Christian militia “consultant”, what’s interesting is how they were so cleverly pawned by Al-Qaeda. Nakoula premiered his movie in late June and uploaded it soon after. Nothing happened until September 8 when another Egyptian, an extremist apologist talk show host, started banging the drum about how blasphemous the movie is. There was plenty of time to get outraged when the movie came out. Why did the Islamists let two perfectly good months of fulmination pass by, while the offending film sat on YouTube, for faithful and kafir alike to see? That they waited until three days before the 9/11 anniversary to strike up the outrage orchestra suggests that Nakoula, Klein and the rest of the Christians involved in the making of “The Innocence of the Muslims” simply became the stoodges for al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri then used the film as cover for what appears to be a well-planned attack on an American soft target in Benghazi, resulting in the Ambasssador and three other American’s deaths. The fact that it followed Zawahiri’s announcement that Abu Faraj Al-Libbi had been killed by the US, and the fact that as his names says, Libbi was Libyan, implies a transparent payback.
So how can the good guys win? First, identify the target. It’s Morsi for the filmmakers, and of course for al-Qaeda, its us. With Morsi and the US Government its important to not make the issue bigger than it is. For the US retaliation should be swift and silent. It is an excellent opportunity for our new friends in Libya to root out an extremist element in their country and strengthen security ties between Washington and Tripoli.
Morsi has an excellent opportunity to demonstrate some great statesman-like behavior.
In this play, Morsi’s a modern day Cleopatra and Zawahiri is the asp, waiting to strike if he fails to balance external and internal forces correctly. He has to keep the foreign powers happy but the domestic Egyptian public opinion appeased as well. Morsi should continue to condemn the film to his right wing, but work to build bridges with the US and Israel to show his country to be a reliable partner. Above all, Morsi should continue to exhibit basic religious values of honesty, evenhandedness, and financial probity. It’s remarkable how far being straight-up will get you in life.