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Florida pastor says he did not promote anti-Islam video because church website was hacked

  • Miami Herald
  • Published Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012, at 5:32 a.m.

GAINESVILLE -- The retired Florida pastor who got international attention two years ago for threatening to burn the Quran was again in the media spotlight on Wednesday for purportedly promoting a video that may have incited the violent attacks in Egypt and Libya.

But Terry Jones told reporters from his now-dismantled church here that his organization’s web site was hacked and that he had not been able to post the short YouTube video mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Whether he promoted the video or not, U.S. authorities were so concerned about Jones that General Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, asked him not to post the controversial 14-minute video in fear it would further inflame tensions in Libya or Egypt.

He said he told Dempsey that he would “definitely consider it,” but later told reporters he would ignore the request.

Jones said Dempsey had seen the film and considered it to be “in his words, pornographic, not fitting for a Christian or pastor to show and he was concerned about the retaliation it could have around the world.”

U.S. State Department officials believe the video may have contributed to the violence in Egypt and Libya, where four people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed. But Obama administration officials also believe the attacks — which happened on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — may have been planned in advance.

On Tuesday, Jones, 60, who inspired deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 when he threatened and later burned copies of the Quran, staged a two-hour event “to put Muhammad on trial” that included burning the Islamic holy book. But, he told reporters, his USTREAM account had been deleted. He ultimately posted the 15-minute video YouTube late Wednesday afternoon.

The video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” is produced by Sam Bacile, whom The Wall Street Journal identified as a 52-year old Israeli-American real estate developer in California. Bacile told the paper he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film and called “Islam is a cancer.’’

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