WATCH: Ohio Officials Apologize to Muslim Man Falsely Accused of ISIS Ties

United Arab Emirates businessman Ahmed Al Menhali was in the United States last week for medical treatment.

Instead, police body camera footage shows him collapsing outside an Avon, Ohio, hotel, after officers charged at him with guns raised and handcuffed him.

They were responding to a false report that Al Menhali, dressed head-to-toe in traditional Arabian thobe, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a phone call from the Fairfield Inn & Suites lobby.

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called for an apology from Avon officials and warned citizens against wearing national dress when traveling to the United States.

Avon’s mayor and police chief apologized to Al Menhali on Saturday in a meeting in the Cleveland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Mayor Bryan K. Jensen released a statement after the meeting, saying officers followed standard department protocol based on the information they had at the time.

“As soon as the facts became clear our officers apologized to Mr. Al Menhali and released him,” Jensen said in the statement. “This was a very unfortunate incident and does not reflect our community. Avon is proud to welcome visitors from the United Arab Emirates and other countries who regularly come to Northern Ohio for tourism, business, medical care of education.”

Al Menhali said he is grateful for the apology but it’s not enough. He wants those responsible for the 911 call to be held accountable. And, he hopes the police department will use it as a teachable moment in cross-cultural encounters.

“Ahmed greatly appreciates the overture by coming to meet him on a holiday weekend. He appreciates their sincere apology, this is a positive and very important first step,” a translator said on his behalf.

“However, he still has a lot of unanswered questions and concerns [as] to how this could have happened in the first place.”

‘Lack of cultural education’

The Avon Police Department received the 911 call on June 29 at 5:53 p.m., according to a news release.
A woman said she was calling on behalf of her sister, a desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The woman said her sister called her and told her there was a man in the hotel lobby “in full headdress with multiple disposable phones pledging his allegiance to ISIS,” the news release said.

Meanwhile, another 911 call came in from the desk worker’s father requesting assistance on behalf of her daughter for the same reason. He said she was “terrified” and hiding “in the back.”

Officers arrived at the hotel at 5:57 p.m. and found Al Menhali at the hotel entrance on a cell phone.
As they approached, his first instinct was to follow their orders, Al Menhali told CNN through a translator.

He had no idea what was going on; maybe something was wrong in the hotel, he thought to himself, and they were coming to help him.

As they got closer and Al Menhali saw their “vicious eyes,” he realized he was the target, he said through his translator.

The clerk was right about one thing: Al Menhali had two phones that he was using to find a place to stay in Cleveland, said Julia Shearson, executive director of CAIR Cleveland.

Al Menhali, who owns a marketing company in the UAE, has been in the United States on a tourist visa since April for treatment at the Cleveland Clinic for several medical conditions, Shearson said.

Continue reading: