Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed “evil Zionists” and the U.S. government for the anti-Islam film that has sparked violent protests in Muslim countries.
In a statement issued Thursday, Khamenei said that the film “showed the fury of the evil Zionists at the daily-increasing radiance of Islam and Holy Qur’an in the present world.”
He added that the “prime suspects in this crime are Zionism and the US government” and demanded that American politicians make those behind the film “face a punishment proportionate to this great crime.”
Khamenei’s statement made no mention of the killings in Libya of four U.S. diplomatic personnel, including the American ambassador to the country.
The statement also made no direct mention of false claims by the film’s producer that he was Israeli and that the film was funded by 100 Jews. These claims, initially reported by media outlets that had interviewed the producer via phone, were quickly shown to be false.
An unnamed federal law enforcement official said Thursday that authorities had identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Coptic Christian from Southern California who has a criminal record, as the key figure behind the movie.
As of Friday, the English-language website of Iran’s Press TV was continuing to repeat the false reports that Jews were behind the film.