With anti-US protests over an anti-Islam video spreading to 11 nations, Washington braced for a growing furore threatening US interests abroad and at home ahead of Friday, the traditional Muslim day of prayers.
Amid continuing protests over the US made film, “Innocence of Muslims”, ridiculing Prophet Mohammed, the US Department of Homeland Security and FBI warned Thursday that the outrage, and dangers to Americans could worsen in the coming days.
“The risk of violence could increase both at home and abroad as the film continues to gain attention,” the US agencies said in a joint intelligence bulletin.
“Additionally, we judge that violent extremist groups in the United States could exploit anger over the film to advance their recruitment efforts.”
Posted in July on YouTube, it got more notice recently after Egyptian television aired segments and anti-Islam activists promoted it online.
According to a FBI/Homeland Security joint statement cited by CNN, the film’s producer identified himself to news media as an Israeli – an assertion Israel’s government denies – and falsely claimed the movie was financed with help from more than 100 Jewish donors.
While he’d been identified in July 2011 by various names, including Sam Bassiel, federal officials cited by CNN said they believe the filmmaker’s name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. He was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud, with the indictment from the US Attorney’s Office listing seven aliases.
In addition to stressing there’s no excuse for violence targeting US diplomatic missions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the video “disgusting and reprehensible” and said it appears to aim “to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”
Small and large demonstrations have occurred in recent days all around North Africa and the Middle East. While some protesters say they have not seen any of the online film, they were incensed by reports of its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.
CNN reported various protests from Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Gaza City, Israel, Iran and Iraq. However, so far, the violence has not spread to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US warships, carrying guided missiles, are on their way to the coast of Libya, where US ambassador Chris Stevens and three staffers were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, CNN reported citing two US officials.