[image, right: Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, whose nonprofit Media For Christ produced [see 1, 2, 3] the inflammatory anti-Muhammad video trailer "Innocence of the Muslims", and anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller, whose popular blog Atlas Shrugs published, in February 2012, a financial solicitation for an anti-Muhammad movie]
Yesterday, while compiling evidence for a report demonstrating conclusively that the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Media For Christ was the most significant force behind the production of the anti-Islamic trailer video "Innocence of the Muslims" which, after being posted on Youtube, has helped incite riots throughout the Islamic world, I came upon the following February 12, 2012 post, on the website of Atlas Shrugs -- the blog of Pamela Geller, the anti-Islamic activist who cofounded the group Stop Islamization of Nations and helped incite and organize the nationally-notorious June 6, 2010 protest against the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan (one of the speakers at the protest was Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, head of Media For Christ.)
Titled "A Movie about Muhammad: An Idea whose Time Has Come", the Geller post contained a solicitation for funding for a movie about Muhammad.
Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs post introduced the financial solicitation with, "Ali Sina, renowned ex-Muslim author, founder of FaithFreedom.org and SION Board member, has a brilliant idea, a plan, to educate and liberate those enslaved by the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth, but he needs our help" [see footnote for background on Ali Sina, including his comparisons of Barack Obama to Hitler]. Then followed Ali Sina's solicitation:
"A Movie about Muhammad: An Idea whose Time Has Come.
...We need to get our message to the masses.
Masses watch movies. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the worth of a motion picture? We need to make a motion picture about Muhammad - a biopic that reveals the details of his life...
The movie shows Muhammad's raids, plunders, massacres, rapes, assassinations and other crimes. A small subtitle in the lower right corner of each scene will give reference to the source of the story... Truth about Muhammad is more shocking than fiction.
The world does not know Islam. What is known is a watered down and euphemized version of it that has no bases in reality. The truth is that Muhammad was a cult leader, much like Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara and Charles Manson...
The other good news is that I have been promised a substantial angel financing. I have been daydreaming about this movie for ten years. It was this promise that prompted me into action. I put everything aside for five months, read everything I could about my protagonist, selected the most salient episodes and wrote the script.
I am not thinking of a high budget movie, but given the subject matter, it can become one of the most seen motion pictures ever. (Recall Danish cartoons?)...
I don't think this movie will require much investment on promotion...
Just as the Internet allowed us to spread our message to millions of people, with this movie we can spread the same message to hundreds of millions. When the world discovers the truth about Muhammad, Islam's days will be numbered...
...given the controversy and the buzz that such a movie will necessarily generate, and the fact that it is an untold and fascinating story about the most influential man in history, I can foresee a huge return on the investment. When I know about the budget and the legalities are in place, I will give a chance to those who might be interested to invest in this project. In you have questions you can email me to email@example.com. In the subject box write Movie Investment."
One day after his financial solicitation appeared on Geller's blog, Ali Sina gave an interview, about his "planned Muhammad bopic", with the European Citizen Times.
Of course this does not prove that the anti-Muhammad movie Ali Sina solicited financing for in early 2012 was the same anti-Muhammad movie that was posted on the Internet, on Youtube, in July 2012. The actual production, the filming of, footage that became "Innocence of the Muslims" occurred six months prior to Ali Sina's solicitation for funds for an anti-Muhammad movie.
But at the very least, we know that the idea of such a movie was circulating in the closely-connected anti-Islamic activist circles that Geller, Spencer, and Abdelmasih were moving in. And we also know that Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who had been directly connected to founder and head of Media For Christ Joseph Nasrallah Abdelmasih since mid-2010 or earlier, were publicly promoting, in early 2012, exactly the sort of anti-Muhammad movie project that Abdelmasih and his operatives would soon bring to fruition, with deadly results.
[image, right: Joseph Spencer and Media For Christ head Joseph Nassrallah Abdelmasih, at June 6, 2010 "Ground Zero Mosque" protest]
We also know that the relationship between Geller, Spencer, and Abdelmasih was more than casual; in June 2010, following the June 6, 2010 Geller and Spencer-organized protest against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (the proposed mosque was in fact to be built several blocks away from the epicenter of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that leveled World Trade Center buildings 1,2, and 7) Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch blog advertised an upcoming appearance by Spencer and Geller on Joseph Abdelmasih's The Way TV broadcast network (note - "Joseph Nassralla" is Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih) :
"Live webcast: Coptic Christian activist Joseph Nassralla, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer respond to media smear campaign against SIOA mosque rally
Pamela Geller and I will be hosted by The Way TV and Mr. Joseph Nassralla this afternoon at 4PM Pacific, to respond to what Keith Olbermann said on his show.
The Way TV wants to take the opportunity to clear up the media's false narrative on the 911 mega-mosque protest.
Anyone can watch the show via the website www.atvsat.com -- live streaming."
[Note: the "false narrative" that Geller and Spencer sought to counter stemmed from widespread media coverage of an incident at the June 6, 2012 protest, in which Abdelmasih and a colleague from The Way TV were targeted and almost physically assaulted by protesters at the event, who had decided that, based on the ethnic appearance of the two, that they were Muslim infiltrators.]
It was not to be Abdelmasih's only appearance at a Geller/Spencer event in 2010 - the Media For Christ head also spoke at a Geller/Spencer rally, against the so-called "ground zero mosque", held September 11, 2010 (video clip of Abdelmasih's speech), during which Abdelmasih warned his audience that muslims "came and conquered our country [Egypt] the same way they want to conquer America".
[video, below: Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih speaks at Pamela Geller's and Robert Spencer's September 11, 2011 "911 Freedom Rally" at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Spencer introduced speaker Abdelmasih as "coming from California, where he operates The Way, a Christian satellite TV station."]
There's an interesting chronological parallel in the development Joseph Abdelmasih's alliance with Geller and Spencer, and the funding fortunes of Abdelmasih's Media For Christ nonprofit 501(c)(3) nonprofit*, that in its first four years of existence, starting in 2005, had an operating budget of less than $50,000 a year. Then, in 2009, according to Media For Christ's 2009 990 tax form filed with the IRS, the nonprofit's yearly budget jumped to $195,396.
In 2010, the year Abdelmasih spoke at Pamela Geller's and Robert Spencer's two anti-mosque rallies, and was photographed together with the two, Media For Christ's budget tripled, to $633,516. Then, in 2011, Media For Christ's budget zoomed to over one million dollars ($1,016,366), an astounding rate of growth for a new nonprofit.
We don't know (and may never know), where the funding for "Innocence of the Muslims" came from, but we do know that, according to a September 15, 2012 CBS investigative story that provided further details on Media For Christ's central role in producing the video trailer, the budget of the film has been reported to have been around $100,000 - a sum that Media For Christ's sizable 2011 operating budget could have covered.
And, given the "huge return on the investment" into such a project as the one proposed by Ali Sina, on Pamela Geller's blog on February 28, 2012, it is easy to imagine that such a project proposal could have convinced existing financial backers of Media For Christ to contribute some additional cash.
In a September 14, 2012 story titled Media for Christ, Led By Anti-Muslim Agitator Joseph Nasralla, Produced Incendiary Film, researcher Rachel Tabachnick provides some additional relevant background on Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer:
Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of David Horowitz's Freedom Center. Spencer and Geller founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), an affiliate of Stop Islamization of Europe and a project of their American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). The AFDI is the sponsor of anti-Muslim advertisements on buses in Manhattan and San Francisco. Spencer and Geller describe their inflammatory activism as being "pro-Israel," although they have no doubt alienated many supporters of Israel. Sources, including a 2011 Slate article, counted the references to Geller, Spencer, and their collaborators in the writings of Norway's mass killer Anders Breivik, and found them cited over 250 times.
It was Spencer and Geller that organized the 2009 rallies around Rifqa Bary, the Muslim girl who ran away from home with the aid of her Christian proselytizers. See previous posts on this issue (1, 2, and 3) including the role of controversial pastor Terry Jones, who has also been reported as promoting the movie in question."
As an additional note, Geller's and Spencer's organization Stop Islamization of Nation has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
As journalist Max Blumenthal declared, in a Thursday September 13 Guardian story about the Innocence of the Muslims video trailer, "Produced and promoted by a strange collection of rightwing Christian evangelicals and exiled Egyptian Copts, the trailer was created with the intention of both destabilizing post-Mubarak Egypt and roiling the US presidential election." But in light of the relationship between Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Joseph Nassralla Abdulmasih, we may need to add another anti-Islamic faction to that "strange collection".
footnote: Ali Sina is one of the chief intellectual architects of a school of thought, whose memes circulate widely in anti-Islamic activist circles, that attacks Islam via a tendentious psychological critique of Muhammad which presents the prophet as a narcissistic and psychopathic murderer, rapist, and pedophile whose visions and behavior stemmed, in part, from temporal lobe epilepsy. Sina is author of the 2008 book Understanding Muhammad, revised and republished in 2011 as Understanding Muhammad and Muslims: A Psychobiography.
[image right: Google search shows numerous, recently-vanished pages, from the alisina.org website, concerning Ali Sina's Muhammad movie project]
Many of the writings that have appeared on Ali Sina's faithandfreedom.org (currently unavailable) website can be found collected here.
In one of the essays, from 2009, Ali Sina promoted the "birther" conspiracy theory which claims Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is secretly a Muslim, and compared Presdident Obama to Hitler, a theme Ali Sina seems to have first broached in December 2008, in an essay titled Understanding Barack Obama: The Making of a Fuhrer.
Within the last several days, the two main websites of Ali Sina, alisina.org and faithandfreedom.org have both become unavailable, due to unspecified "problems" (here's an archive.org copy of the alisina.org index page).
But Sina's Muhammad movie proposal made a considerable splash in anti-Muslim activist circles, so disappearing all the evidence may be quite difficult. Here, at www.globalinfidel.tv, Eric Allen Bell writes of contacting Ali Sina about his movie proposal and, for the time being at least, Ali Sina's February 29, 2012 interview with the Citizen Times remains available.
*correction: the initial version of this story stated that Media For Christ was granted its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2009. That appears to have been incorrect - 990 tax forms I have subsequently located indicate that Media For Christ became a low-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2005.