U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed Tuesday - the 11th anniversary of 9/11 - in an assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The attack - and related violent protests against the American embassy in Egypt - were prompted by an amateurish anti-Muslim video apparently made in America.
The WSJ reports that the video was uploaded on YouTube by Sam Bacile, a 52-year old Israeli-American real estate developer in California who said he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film. “Islam is a cancer,” Bacile told the WSJ.
The NYT reports that the 14-minute video gained international attention when Florida pastor Terry Jones began promoting it along with his own proclamation of Sept. 11 as “International Judge Muhammad Day.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Jones called the film “an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam” and said it “further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad.”
President Obama said in a statement, "While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
The AP found Bacile, who is in hiding but remained defiant. He blamed lax embassy security and the perpetrators of the violence, the AP reports.
The full film has been shown just once, Bacile told the AP. To an empty theater in Hollywood.
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Image of John Christopher Stevens courtesy of the State Department.