Why did he claim to be an Israeli?
(CNN) -- The murky account of a man who says he is responsible for a film that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed is raising questions about everything -- from his identity to the production.
In telephone calls with news agencies, a man identifying himself as Sam Bacile said he was the man who made the movie that roiled the Islamic world.
In Egypt and Libya, mobs targeted U.S. missions and blamed America for the film.
In the end, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the Libyan city of Benghazi were dead, though it is not clear whether the attack was solely incited by the film.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Bacile identified himself as a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California.
He characterized the movie, "Innocence of Muslims," as "a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam," the newspaper reported.
"Islam is a cancer," he said. "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."
He said he was backed by Jewish donors, who contributed $5 million to make the film. Based on the trailer, however, the movie, crude and cartoonish, appears to have been produced on a low budget.
Other questions surfaced about Bacile's claims.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said there was no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship.
"This guy is totally anonymous. At this point, no one can confirm he holds Israeli citizenship, and even if he did we are not involved," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
CNN has been unable to contact Bacile and cannot verify his claims. A search by CNN of public records related to Bacile came up empty.
Steve Klein, an anti-Muslim activist who said he was a script consultant for the movie, said Bacile had gone into hiding.
"He's very depressed, and he's upset," Klein said Wednesday. "I talked to him this morning, and he said that he was very concerned for what happened to the ambassador."
Casting further doubt on the filmmaker's identity, The Atlantic later quoted Klein as saying Sam Bacile was a pseudonym.
He told The Atlantic he did not know Bacile's real name.
Klein is known in Southern California for his vocal opposition to the construction of a mosque in Temecula, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2010. He heads up Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, a group that contends Islam is a threat to American freedom.
A search of entertainment records turned up no previous mention of a Sam Bacile, and the directors and writers guilds had no listing for him.
A casting call published in July 2011 in Backstage magazine and in other publications for actors identifies the working title of the movie as "Desert Warrior" and describes it as a "historical Arabian Desert adventure film."
But the 80 cast and crew members involved in the making of the movie said they were "grossly misled" about its intent.
"The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer," they said in a statement to CNN.
They said they were "shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."
An actress in the film, who asked not to be identified, said the original script did not include a Prophet Mohammed character. She said she and other actors complained that their lines had been changed.
The woman said she spoke Wednesday with the producer, who is identified in the advertisement as Sam Bassiel.
"He said he wrote the script because he wants the Muslims to quit killing," she said. "I had no idea he was doing all this."
The actress said that the character of Mohammed in the movie was named George when it was shot, and that after production wrapped she returned and read other lines that may have been dubbed into the piece.
A member of the production staff who worked on the film and has a copy of the original script corroborated the woman's account. There was no mention of Mohammed or Islam, the crew member said.
The movie was shown in June at an undisclosed theater and drew only 10 patrons, according to the Los Angeles Times. Then the movie was called "Innocence of Bin Laden," the newspaper reported.
Klein told the Los Angeles Times that the movie was shown in Hollywood in hopes of drawing Islamic extremists.
The name Sam Bacile surfaced in July when somebody posted a 14-minute movie trailer on YouTube under the name. The film was posted under several titles, including "Mohammed Movie Trailer" and "Innocence of Muslims."
The filmmaker who produced an incendiary, anti-Muslim movie that stirred extremists Tuesday to storm the U.S. embassy in Egypt and may be linked to the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya may have gone into hiding, as doubts rose as to his true identity.
Following yesterday's riots, a California man calling himself Sam Bacile took credit for making the film "Innocence of the Muslims" and identified himself as an Israeli Jew in two news interviews. In an interview with the Associated Press, he called Islam "a cancer."
But a search of public records and inconsistencies in Bacile's own accounts, as well as information from a radical Christian who helped produced the movie all suggest that "Sam Bacile" is a pseudonym and is not Israeli but an Arab Christian.
"I've met him twice. He is not a citizen of Israel. He is in hiding," Steve Klein, a member of a far-right anti-Islamic Christian group who says he helped with the film's production, told ABC News.
Klein said Bacile was not Israeli or Jewish, and suggested he was an Arab Christian who was a U.S. citizen.
The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film.
Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cellphone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula's aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others...
Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver's license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona.