Avon, Ohio mayor apologizes for Emirati visitor's ordeal

UAE man wearing traditional robes mistaken for a terrorist in Ohio
UAE man wearing traditional robes mistaken for a terrorist in Ohio

An Ohio mayor apologized Sunday after a visitor from the Middle East was accused of being a terrorist and handcuffed by police at gunpoint.

In the wake of Wednesday's incident, the United Arab Emirates urged its citizens abroad to avoid wearing the country's traditional white robes and headscarf.

The UAE also summoned a senior U.S. diplomat to express its "dismay at the brutal way" police treated one of its citizens.

Officers were dispatched to a hotel in Avon, less than 20 miles west of Cleveland, after staff called 911 to allege a Muslim guest named Ahmed Al Menhali was "in full headdress with multiple disposable phones, pledging his allegiance to ISIS,"according to NBC station WKYC.

See Cops Swoop on Mistaken 'Terror' Suspect
See Cops Swoop on Mistaken 'Terror' Suspect

Officers arrived to find Al Menhali dressed in a white robe and speaking Arabic on his cellphone. They drew their weapons and ordered him to the ground but found that he wasn't armed.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement later that Al Menhali was "pinned to the ground."

Officers spoke with staff at the front desk of the Fairfield Inn and Suites and found that the man had not in fact pledged allegiance to ISIS, but that it was a "miscommunication ... between the desk clerk and her relatives," WKYC reported.

While officers were speaking with Al Menhali he collapsed to the ground and was taken to the hospital as a precaution, according to the station.

Avon Mayor Bryan K. Jensen issued a statement Sunday apologizing for the "regrettable incident that took place last week in our community."

He said the officers had followed their department's "standard response protocol" and that "as soon as the facts became clear, our officers apologized to Mr. Al Menhali and released him."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the apology and the "transparency and forthrightness of these officials."

Following the incident, a UAE Foreign Ministry Twitter account posted a message Saturday warning its citizens abroad not to wear Emirati dress in public, according to Reuters.

"For citizens traveling outside the country, and in order to ensure their safety, we point out not to wear formal dress while traveling, especially in public places," the news agency said citing the Twitter account.

The foreign office of the UAE summoned Ethan Goldrich, the U.S. deputy mission chief in the country, over what it called the "brutal ... ill-treatment meted out by the Ohio Police to an Emirati citizen."

According to its statement, Goldrich apologized for the incident and emphasized that the U.S. respects the right for citizens of other nations to wear their traditional dress.