Terry Jones, a controversial Florida pastor who is known for his anti-Islam demonstrations, was contacted by the Pentagon on Wednesday and was asked to stop supporting "Innocence of Muslims," an anti-Islam film that may have played a role in triggering recent attacks on American embassies in both Egypt and Libya.
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, spoke by phone this morning with Pastor Terry Jones," Marine Col. David Lapan, director of the press office at the U.S. Department of Defense, told USA Today in a statement on Wednesday. "In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause. He asked Mr. Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film."
Jones, the senior pastor of Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., is internationally known for holding public demonstrations against Islam. In 2011, he burned a copy of the Quran, which sparked riots in the Middle East that resulted in the deaths of 10 U.N. staffers.
On Wednesday, a press release from Jones on his Stand Up America Now website said he was asked by the producer of "Innocence of Muslims" to help distribute the film. He also stated that Muslims don't take criticism well, and says it wasn't his fault they reacted violently to the film.
"The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Muhammad that are possibly not widely known ... The fruits of the religion speak for themselves. For example the recent outbreak of violence and deaths is not because of the film, it is not because of the activities that we have done and that we will continue to do," said Jones.
Jones had made plans to show a trailer for the film on Sept. 11 during an event he called "International Judge Mohammad Day," but the 60-year-old pastor told reporters Wednesday that he was unable to do so because his organization's website was hacked, The Miami Herald reports.
Regardless of how involved he has been in promoting the video thus far, Jones told Dempsey he would "definitely consider" his request to not post the video on his website. According to the Herald, however, he later told reporters he would ignore the Pentagon's requests.
On Sept. 11, protesters in Cairo climbed the U.S. embassy there and tore down the American flag. Upset Muslims also stormed the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, in a firebombing attack.
A statement issued by President Barack Obama on Wednesday both condemned the attacks and praised Stevens and the other Americans who were killed for their service.
"I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe," said Obama. "While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."
Some U.S. officials have said they believe the attack in Libya was planned for the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. An investigation has begun.
The White House said Thursday that Obama spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, in part to reaffirm each government's support in protecting diplomatic facilities and personnel.