LOS ANGELES - The man behind an anti-Islam film that stoked angry protests against the United States across the Muslim world was released from federal custody in California on Thursday after serving time for probation violations stemming from his role in making the video.
Mark Basseley Youssef, a 56-year-old, Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who was paroled from a 2010 bank fraud conviction before producing the now-notorious film clip, was sent back to prison last November for failing to abide by the terms of his supervised release.
He admitted in court at the time to committing several probation violations, including the use of aliases and accessing the Internet, in the course of producing the video, which portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant.
The crudely made 13-minute film, circulated online under several titles including The Innocence of Muslims, touched off a torrent of anti-American demonstrations in Arab and Muslim countries, where many consider any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.
The start of the unrest on Sept. 11, 2012, coincided with an attack on US diplomatic posts in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya. Links between the Benghazi assault and Youssef's film have since been debunked.