One of the purported filmmakers behind "Innocence of Muslims," the low-budget anti-Muslim film that has generated unrest across the Arab world, issued a statement Monday saying that he was duped.
Joseph Nassralla, whose nonprofit organization Media for Christ pulled permits for the film, said he was shocked by the final product and lied to by filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
The statement was issued to anti-Muslim blogger and activist Pamela Geller, who also serves as executive director of American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America. Nassralla said his involvement with the film was limited to letting Nakoula use his office as a shooting location. Nassralla said when Nakoula initially approached him about the project, he did know what type of movie he was making.
"He told me that he was making a film about Christian persecution, and that it would examine the culture of the desert and how it is related to what is going on right now," Nassralla wrote. "The name of Nakoula’s film, he told me, was 'Desert Warrior'."
Nassralla, who said he has received death threats and remains in hiding, said Nakoula used his organization's name to pull film permits without his knowledge. He also said the finished product was not the film he agreed to help with.
"Nakoula altered the film without anyone’s knowledge, changing its entire focus and dubbing in new dialogue," he wrote. "He edited it. The final product, 'Innocence of Muslims,' bore no resemblance to the film I thought he was making, or the film the actors thought they were creating. We were shocked."
Nassralla said blame for any violence that may have erupted lies with "those who are rioting and murdering," not with the filmmakers.
Nakoula has separately disclaimed responsibility for the movie. Bishop Serapion, head of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, said Nakoula called him last week and denied any involvement with the film.