Ahmed Al Menhali is a businessman from the United Arab Emirates, who flew to Cleveland for medical treatment and ended up in the midst of an international incident that is sparking protest from the UAE and has earned him apologies, according to WISN-TV.
Dressed in traditional robes (a white robe and headdress), Al Menhali was falsely accused of being a terrorist who was pledging allegiance to ISIS by a hotel desk clerk’s family, CNN says. The incident caused the UAE to advise its citizens not to wear national attire abroad because Al Menhali was “wrestled to the ground,” by police “and held as an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suspect,” Al-Jazeera says. The UAE has also “summoned a senior American diplomat” to protest what Al-Jazeera called the “abusive treatment” of al-Menhali.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Woman’s Family Members Had Reported that Al Menhali Was Pledging Allegiance to ISIS
According to WISN-TV, on June 29, a woman called police saying that she was calling on behalf of her sister, who worked behind the desk at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. The woman said her sister had called her to say there was a man in the lobby “in full headdress with multiple disposable phones pledging his allegiance to ISIS.”
You can listen to that 911 call here:
The desk clerk’s father then called 911 too. The woman’s father said she was “terrified” and hiding in the back of the hotel, WISN said. Four minutes after the 911 call, Avon Police came to the hotel encountered Al Menhali talking on a cell phone at the entrance to the hotel, CNN said.
2. The Arrest of Al Menhali Was Captured on Video
Avon police body cameras captured the incident on video that was circulated on YouTube. You can watch that video here:
And a shorter version of it here:
3. Al Menhali Contends That Police Were Brutal With Him
Al Menhali told The National, a UAE publication, that police were “brutal with me. They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest.”
Newsnet5 reported, “Body camera video showed officers handcuffing and searching Almenhali. He was hospitalized with minor injuries.”
4. Al Menhali Collapsed at the Scene From a Panic Attack
At first, Al Menhali thought it was a training exercise or hotel event. He told the National that he initially complied with police orders to lie down and let them search him. However, after they released him, he “suffered a panic attack and collapsed,” the National says.
He was taken to a local hospital by ambulance. In an official statement, the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, said its Ambassador, Al Otaiba, had discussed the arrest with the mayor of Avon, and urged him to make a “swift apology” as well as “take appropriate steps to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.”
5. The Mayor and Police Chief of Avon, Ohio Apologized to Al Menhali
The apology came July 2 in a videotaped meeting with the mayor, police chief, and Al Menhali at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Cleveland office. “You should not have been put in that situation,” Avon Police Chief Richard Bosley told Al Menhali, according to CNN.
Newsnet5 was the only station allowed in the meeting. In a news story, the station called it a “face-to-face peace meeting” and quoted the police chief as telling Al-Menhali,
No one from the police department (wanted) to disrespect you. That was not the intent of any of our officers. It is a very regrettable circumstance that occurred for you. You should not have been put in that situation like you were
The mayor said:
There were some false accusations made against you. And those are regrettable. I hope…the person that made those can maybe learn from those.
You can watch that video here:
The mayor also Tweeted out the apology story: