By NBC News staff and wire reports
Updated 4:05 p.m. ET:
Federal authorities have concluded that a 55-year-old Egypt-born Coptic Christian man living in the Los Angeles area was the key figure behind the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," blamed for sparking riots and protests in the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Thursday, quoting an unidentified U.S. law enforcement official.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who the AP said is on probation after being convicted of financial crimes, also was twice sentenced to jail after being found guilty of intent to manufacture methamphetamine in the late 1990s, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office told NBC News.
Court records show that Nakoula also was convicted on federal fraud charges in Los Angeles in 2010. As part of the conditions of his probation, Nakoula was barred from using "any online service at any location" without the prior approval of his probation officer, according to a copy of court records in the case.
Federal law enforcement officials are investigating whether Nakoula violated his probation on federal fraud charges in his efforts to promote the movie, an official has confirmed to NBC News.
The AP quoted the law enforcement official as saying that federal authorities had concluded that Nakoula was behind the film. The news service said it was not immediately clear whether Nakoula was the target of a criminal investigation or part of the broader investigation into the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya during a terrorist attack.
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Thursday that Justice Department officials were investigating the deaths, which occurred during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi.
The crude and provocative anti-Islam video blamed in part for sparking protests against U.S. diplomatic missions — was promoted by another Egyptian-born Coptic Christian named Morris Sadek on his website.