Emirati Man In Ohio Mistaken For Terrorist, Handcuffed At Gunpoint

A 41 year old Emirati man visiting the US for medical treatment was handcuffed at gunpoint last Wednesday at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Cleveland Avon. His crime? “Looking” like a terrorist. According to NBC station WKYC:

On Wednesday, June 29, the Avon Police Department received a 911 call from the sister of a woman who was working as a desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Colorado Avenue.

The caller reported her sister told her there was a male in the lobby “in full head dress with multiple disposable phones pledging his allegiance to ISIS.”

Avon Police then received a second 911 call from the desk clerk’s father who also requested assistance on behalf of his daughter.

Except as it turned out the whole “pledging allegiance to ISIS” thing wasn’t actually true. My guess is that as far as some people are concerned, speaking Arabic is the same thing as pledging allegiance to ISIS. In other words, this guy’s only “crimes” were being in “full head dress,” and I suppose having multiple phones, which isn’t at all unusual for people traveling internationally.

Unfortunately the Emirati collapsed after the incident, though at least he did something cool at the hospital, per Middle East Eye:

A picture of Menhali carried by local news site The Chronicle showed him lying in a hospital bed holding up a poster of the Biblical Nativity scene, saying he had been dressed similarly to the three wise men of Christian tradition.

He added, in statements to The Chronicle, that white robes are typically only worn by wealthy people in the UAE, and that it would be very rare to see a suicide bomber or militant wearing such dress.

The last part is really key as well. If you’re going to be an ignorant, racist idiot, at least have some context for your ignorant, racist stupidity. As pointed out above, what he was wearing was more the “local” dress for the fairly well off than something worn by suicide bombers. We’ll have to hope that the poor desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn never makes it to the Dubai Mall.

Interestingly the Emirati foreign ministry is now advising citizens to not wear their national dress during travel, to avoid incidents like this:

The Emirati foreign ministry, in a statement posted on Twitter, urged citizens “not to wear national dress during their travel, especially in public areas, to ensure their own safety”.

Here’s a full video of the incident, including the 911 calls, the officers approaching the Emirati, and the suspect collapsing:

This stuff just infuriates me.

The guy was apologized to after the fact, though I’m not sure that cuts it:

Perhaps this is a bad story to stumble upon on the 4th of July… 😉

Comments

  1. Clearly we should not have jumped to conclusions based simply on his choice of dress.

    But an Emirati staying at Fairfield Inn? I mean an Emirati is just behind a Qatari national in being one of the richest and most priveleged class of people in the world ( Royal families excepted). Perhaps there is not a higher end place to stay? Or is he one of the extremely rare Emirati who prefer frugality and avoids bling?

  2. Judging by the gossip here in the UAE, there is more to the story than is publicly known so far. There are rumours that this whole thing was setup by the Hilary Clinton campaign to try and draw negative attention to Donald Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric. The interview that the “victim” gave shortly after being released seemed to focus entirely on Trump and the evil his actions are causing – rather a strange thing for someone who just suffered a stroke to dwell on.

  3. Clearly stupidity is not strictly a US thing. Since this story involves an “emirati” Boarding Area has placed a link on this page to your post from last year “Woman Jailed In UAE For “Writing Bad Words On Social Media”. At first I though this involved profanity, but no, from the ABC report:

    “In February, 39-year-old Jodi Magi took a photo of a car in her apartment block in Abu Dhabi that was parked across two disabled parking spaces without any disability stickers.

    She blanked out the number plate and put it on Facebook, drawing attention to the seemingly selfish act, but not providing any identifying details or names.

    However someone complained to police, and the case went to an Abu Dhabi court in June.

    Ms Magi was forced to sign multiple documents in Arabic without any translation, and two weeks ago she was found guilty of “writing bad words on social media about a person” and told she would be deported.”

    For which she was fined $3,600, detained for a court appearance, threatened with jail time, then deported. No apologies given either….

  4. @ Robert Hanson

    Presuming what you are saying is absolutely true (which I believe is true most likely), are you justifying this incident with what you are quoting. Two wrongs do not make it right. We all know human rights record is pathetic in this part of the world but are you suggesting that this is a good enough excuse for Americans to go that low?

  5. “As pointed out above, what he was wearing was more the “local” dress for the fairly well off than something worn by suicide bombers.”

    Expecting a hotel clerk in Ohio to know this is a reach, IMO.

  6. Americans are becoming paranoid,how many times we ve heard of people evicted from planes because the speaking arabic or saying the word Allah,whats shoking is the brutality police used,this will never happen in UK .
    I guess the desk clerck never travelled beyound her little village to know about others cultures.

  7. You would think if the police came they would have ascertained the situation rather quickly. I am surprised it got to all of that unless all parties wanted to be “gung-ho” and make a scene. You would think that even low-level hospitality employees like this would have had procedures in place to deal with any number of types of guests or people in their presence. Apparently this gentleman was not doing anything to justify all of that drama. I would imagine the appropriate thing for the hotel to do would be more than merely apologize.

  8. Brian L,

    The front desk agent clearly does not speak Arabic. She was making false statements regarding this customer resulting in his arrest I think she should be punished accordingly.

  9. Sorry Brian I meant to say also that , because she does not know the difference, everybody dressed in traditional Muslim wear is a terrorist? I hope she is no longer employed at this company

  10. As Sean said, It could very well have been a set up. Consider that someone who was just arrested, then taken to the hospital after “collapsing”, suddenly has this available:

    “A picture of Menhali carried by local news site The Chronicle showed him lying in a hospital bed holding up a poster of the Biblical Nativity scene, saying he had been dressed similarly to the three wise men of Christian tradition”.

    Do folks from the Emirates typically carry posters of Nativity scenes?

    And despite the title saying that the video shows him “collapsing”, it shows nothing of the sort. It shows the officers arriving, then he’s on the ground being handcuffed and patted down for weapons. It’s totally unclear how he ended up on the ground. Possibly the officers took him down, but on the other hand if he was playing this for publicity, he may have done an NBA type faked fall.

    From the linked Middle East Eye article:

    “said he was ‘victim of Trump propaganda’ after being mistaken for militant.
    They were brutal with me. They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest,” Menhali said, quoted in The National daily.”

    Watch the video, and look for the “brutal” attack that was severe enough to cause bleeding. That was totally made up. This was an ordinary arrest. As to whether or not he did mention ISIS, or was simply speaking Arabic on the phone, I don’t see any evidence either way.

    Where does he get the “Trump propaganda” part from? It sounds more like anti-Trump propaganda to me. Whoever may have planned this, it has the stench of political campaign “dirty tricks” all over it. And it wouldn’t have had to be the Clintons, the government of the UAE is very involved with generating propaganda in the US for their benefit. Case in point:

    “Matt Damon’s Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation.

    A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

    The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns.

    While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which runs PR for Participant Media, the company that developed the film fund backing Promised Land, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.”
    😉

  11. Truly ridiculous… The hotel clerk needs to be fired. The police who made the arrest without checking facts need to be punished.

  12. If the clerk gets fired, she’ll show up on the podium of the GOP convention with Trump saying what a great American she is.

  13. @Shami Of course I wasn’t saying that stupid behavior in the UAE justifies stupid behavior in Cleveland. If in fact it was that, and not political theatre. I just found it ironic that BA placed a link to that story on the page for this post.

    And also knowing the anti-American comments, such as Mohamed’s, were coming:
    “Americans are becoming paranoid”…

    Look at the news today, with over 200 dead and another 200 wounded from a single ISIS suicide attack in Bagdad, and tell me why it’s unreasonable to be “paranoid”. 🙁

  14. Good for Emirati government for issuing the dress advisory.
    I don’t care about what anyone wears, but if he decides to wear that head gear and robe outside of his own country, expect to stand out in a foreign country.
    If he wants to remain unnoticed, just follow local customs.

  15. Sean, There’s no such a thing as a “traditional Muslim wear” Dress code is more dictated by the culture of the locality than anything else.

  16. I’m not buying the whole set up thing. If you’ve been around people who belong to any of the ethnic groups Trump has vilified, you know he comes into conversation pretty often. In fact, my friends who’ve travelled abroad in the last few months say he’s often the first thing people in other countries bring up to them. In this case though, I don’t fault the clerk’s ignorance. She maybe has never travelled abroad and finds anything foreign scary, but the police should know better. Don’t go into a situation assuming the worst. Treat the person with respect until you have evidence they’ve actually done something wrong. They can do their jobs without embarrassing an innocent person.

  17. Time to fire the hotel management for not giving their employees the proper cultural sensitivity training. Where was the Front Office Manager or the Assistant Manager as this was all going on? Why would a Desk Clerk be allowed to text while on duty?

  18. Maybe our Anerican women can show their legs and heads in public and not be harassed in a lot of these Arab countries. Or better yet go to Mecca or Medina and not be a Muslim. Or be a woman and drive a car. Then people might understand the world a little better. Wait! American women can’t do those things and Christians can’t go to those cities, or we will be arrested and jailed. A person does not even have to look threatening, but… They are arrested and convicted of a CRIME.
    Also, I am tired of the word”racist” being bandied about. It’s getting really old.

  19. See I more fault the clerk than the police personally. I don’t know. Maybe it is the times we live in but with all the attacks recently I am sure thats why they responded the way they did. If you actually read up on the story the city handled themselves well. After detaining the individual they cleared it up quickly. The city issued an apology rather than hide behind some bs public safety standard. It is easy to play Monday morning quarterback in a situation like this. If you listen to the two 911 calls her family really tries to make it seem like an attack is imminent. Honestly the reason they going into situations preparing for the worst case is because if they take caution more lives could be lost. Decisive, quick action can prevent further loss of life in an emergency situation which thank god this was not. I understand you guys wanting the police to investigate, but I am just being a realist. What if, i know he was not, but what if what the caller was saying was real. If they took a more mild approach he could have blown himself up or shot people. So I don’t really fault the police. I 100% fault the clerk and the clerk’s family for creating a dangerous situation. I really feel the police did what they had to, cleared up the situation, and let him go. The police were put in this position by the two 911 calls. Someone made a decision to treat the situation tactically and honestly in light of recent events I can understand why. To play devils advocate what it they just sent a uniformed car to investigate and it was a real attack. Then we would all be complaining why they did not take the 2 911 calls more seriously. Right now there is no winning if you are a police officer. For the record I am not a cop but am an US army veteran and I just think they get a bad rep.

  20. Lucky where was your condemnation of the Israeli killed by an extremist the other day? Terrors attacks in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago? Sure this irritates you, but you have trouble taking cheap shots at LY and take issue with security protocols they employ. Are you still planning to visit this year?

  21. >Do folks from the Emirates typically carry posters of Nativity scenes?

    Because as we all know, them durn furreners can’t buy things, or have other people buy them things. Walmart sells whole sets; personally I’d have gone full manger photo op if I had the money.

    >As to whether or not he did mention ISIS, or was simply speaking Arabic on the phone, I don’t see any evidence either way.

    FYI: supporters of ISIS don’t call it ISIS. They call it ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah, or simply ad-Dawlah. But, uh, sure; some motel clerk in Cleveland toooootally knew that and heard the guy say it.

  22. Unless people who make false claims are punished these scenes are likely to continue in the US for a long time to come.
    It’s very sad that the atmosphere is so toxic. Let’s not forget that others have been kicked off planes and buses in the US recently because they spoke a different language and/or looked different. Fact of the matter these types of actions reflect badly on people in the US. People need to calm down and get exposed to different cultures. Arab and Muslom dress are not linked to terrorism. In fact ISIL killed more Muslims than any other religion. They are not a religious group but a terrorist organisation.

  23. @Mark If you’ve been called a “racist” a lot recently, I think you should look inward instead of blaming society…clearly you’re doing something wrong. Even if you don’t think you are.

    It’s just like how the only people I’ve ever heard complain about “PC culture destroying everything” are some of the biggest jerks I’ve ever met, who would love to return to a time period where it was okay to be openly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, etc.

    Also, @Sean M, that is truly an insane conspiracy theory. Have a word with yourself if you legitimately believe that. Maybe the reason Trump was mentioned was that he OPENLY CRITICIZES ALL MUSLIMS. Wow, who would have thought there might be negative consequences to hateful speech and disparaging generalizations about an entire people!

  24. Anna, I agree with you. I spent the last 3 years living in Qatar. They are well aware of how much Trump and his followers are vilifying Muslims. Any of my Qatari friends would have said the same thing this Emerati guy said, about being a victim of the bigoted rhetoric that Trump has stirred up. And about the Christian poster, perhaps it was in his hospital room. My local hospital in my town in California for example, is quite Catholic and has bibles in the rooms– perhaps some hospitals also have biblical posters.

    As far what Mark has said, “Maybe our Anerican women can show their legs and heads in public and not be harassed in a lot of these Arab countries… Or be a woman and drive a car.”

    You may be referring to Saudi Arabia which is indeed very rigid about those things. But do not paint the whole Middle East with a Saudi brush. In Qatar it was totally fine for me to not cover my head. I was able to wear short dresses to the high end hotels and dance clubs. For going to work and to the super market I dressed normally–not showing tons of skin, but pretty much normally. I bought a car and drove it every day and all over the country. No local man ever remotely harassed me. In fact it was the politest and most respectful culture I’ve ever lived in.

    The media only shows us what is sensational or scary. Yes, I totally agree that ISIS is scary. And I also know that ISIS might not exist if not for Bush’s war in Iraq that left they type of vacuum that allows these extremist groups to develop.

    I know it’s easy, while sitting in the US and being exposed to the worst of what’s in the Middle East, to paint a broad brush over all of it, and think they’re all out to get us. After having lived in a Middle Eastern country, and having made friends with locals, I can say that it is not black and white at all and that each country is different and that everyone I met over there was very peaceful, and concerned about ISIS, and very respectful and generous.

  25. Lucky and others,
    Calm down ! The police were just doing their job. They are first responders, right ?
    If your family members were among the 2,800 people who had died in 9/11—–then maybe you would have hoped for the police to have done their job back then also.
    This is nothing.
    If you want to “get infuriated” then talk about the American, et al women who are raped in the Middle East and then charged with adultery and other crimes. While the male perpetuators go off free.
    What kind of a society is that? These are victims, the Arab man is just ignorant of American culture and society. The women in the hotel meant no harm to the man or others.

  26. Yeah…. An embarrassment from several perspectives! The ignorant receptionist is a product of her environment and the rhetoric that is being spewed today by inexcusable ignorant so-called LEADERS in American Politics, and overzealous – new wave policing in today’s AMERICA (base also on IGNORANCE). Let’s hope this man and every other ARAB/MUSLIM with REAL MONEY – takes their medical care far from NOWHERE OHIO (AND OTHER places – there are so many in the USA)……. to areas that are less ignorant of other cultures (maybe Europe would be a good start); my experience? I lived in Dubai from 7/2010 thru 1/2015. Think I am just about ready to go back.

  27. Mohamed says Americans are paranoid. Where did he come from ? Are you enjoying your freedom today ?
    Hamas says the woman need to be punished. What? See something, say something!
    Many men died so all of you can enjoy your freedom today. That’s why you are here. And not in some backward country where there is no freedom for the oppressed…..or any woman or minority who doesn’t have status.
    Look around you.
    Our people put rags over their head and wear sleeves to the wrist so that some pervert will not get turned on…..what idiocy. Sin is in the eye of the beholder. It’s his problem, and he can indulge his flesh all he wants or put it under—as he should.
    Foreigners come here and do not wear apparel fitting to our way of life and culture. Why? But we have to obey their culture when in their land.
    People get real.

  28. You are such an idiot and stupid jerk to even post this article, with all the terrorism happened all over the world and US is a high risk country. Are you laughing at the Police and citizens they are stupid and too paranoid, may be this guy was acting suspicious we don’t know. It’s too bad for this guy and the police force need to make it up to him afterward. It’s better safe than sorry nowadays.

    Why would the Emirati foreign ministry, issued a statement and posted on Twitter to urge their citizens “not to wear national dress during their travel, especially in public areas, to ensure their own safety”. It’s because terrorism is all over the world and this guy don’t listen. If he is a terrorist and happen your family is there you may say thank You for the clever clerk, if not her there would be a tragedy in Ohio.

  29. Are they going to have to change the dress of the dolls in Disney’s It’s A Small World rides? You don’t want to scare anyone? LOL

  30. The clerk, her sister, and father should all do jail time for making false statements to the police. I hope the victim also sues them for everything they own. What redneck douchebags!

  31. @Jose ‘the clever clerk’ – lol – just like the ‘clever passenger’ on a recent AA flight who saw a Professor working on a mathematics problem but thought he was acting suspiciously and writing in a foreign script, resulting in him being questioned by security staff

    Great to live in a time where personal behaviour is being determined by people too stupid to know what a mathematical equations looks like or who think anyone who looks even slightly swarthy & speaking in a foreign language is a potential terrorist

  32. “Look at the news today, with over 200 dead and another 200 wounded from a single ISIS suicide attack in Bagdad, and tell me why it’s unreasonable to be “paranoid””

    Well, Iraqis have a reason to feel paranoid, not sure about Americans. Unless you’re using that to justify your hatred of Muslims…

    “where was your condemnation of the Israeli killed by an extremist the other day?”

    You mean the Jewish Israeli who was stabbed to death by another Jewish Israeli at the Jerusalem gay pride?

    “American women can’t do those things and Christians can’t go to those cities, or we will be arrested and jailed.”

    That is a stupid comparison. Those things are part of the law in those countries, whether you like them or not. In the US, it still isn’t a crime for Arabs who visit to dress in their national clothing, and/or a crime for them to speak Arabic.

    “If you want to “get infuriated” then talk about the American, et al women who are raped in the Middle East and then charged with adultery and other crimes. While the male perpetuators go off free.
    What kind of a society is that? These are victims, the Arab man is just ignorant of American culture and society. The women in the hotel meant no harm to the man or others.”

    Like the Stanford rapist who basically got 6 months for what he did. I mean, it isn’t like men getting off for raping women in the US doesn’t happen or anything…

    “Why would the Emirati foreign ministry, issued a statement and posted on Twitter to urge their citizens “not to wear national dress during their travel, especially in public areas, to ensure their own safety”. It’s because terrorism is all over the world and this guy don’t listen.”

    Nah, it’s because people in the west can be very stupid and ignorant. Remember, an Italian college math professor was reported as a terrorist because some dumb idiot on a plane thought the guy was a member of the evil world terrorist group Al Geb Rah…so yes, you might avoid having some dumb westerner assume you are a terrorist by dressing like a westerner.

    “Mohamed says Americans are paranoid. Where did he come from ?”

    As with most people calling themselves Americans these days, probably from overseas, just like you. Mohamed is probably as native American as you are.

  33. Really surprising to read so many negative comments about the hotel clerk. Yes what she did was wrong, but I wouldn’t punish anyone for being extra cautious. Just think for a second, what message would it send out? The next person who may actually overhear a terrorist may not report it out of the fear of losing his/her job or being branded a racist.

    I was in the US last month on holiday and was patted down twice at Orlando and Las Vegas airports. Rather than get extra sensitive about it, it was good to know that security was doing its job in keeping people like us safer.

  34. Actually there was a bunch of terrorist in the hotel again. But they were dressed like cowboys with rifles and guns and big texan hats. So nobody noticed. 🙂

  35. @Nick

    Because terrorists wouldn’t be speaking Arabic in public, and most certainly would dress as westernized as they could. They’d try to blend in as much as possible.

    I really doubt these days a terrorist would be revealing their plans in front of a hotel clerk.

  36. @Kalboz: Folks who don’t support ISIS call it Daesh. If the man were truly a supporter he would not refer to the group as Daesh, as it is considered insulting.

  37. Typical Americans, why am I not surprised by this. And these dumbasses are going to be the ones that bring in that buffoon Trump to presidency

  38. In today’s Islam vs The World, It’s not all that irrational to be suspicious of what doesn’t appear normal. I’m confident that all suicide bombers do not dress in “suicide attire” (although I will admit that a domestic Fairfield Inn is probably not on their hit list.) Those of you who have shunned “trust but confirm” have embraced a whole new level of the liberal organizational stupidity.

  39. I would get catcalled every time I walked to the grocery store in a skirt above my knees, had men make lewd gestures as I was passing, I’ve had a driver stop me on a corner at 8am and take his “you know what” out and fondle himself, been groped on the sidewalk….all in the United States. But that’s besides the point, just because worst things happen in other countries, doesn’t mean we should allow wrongs to go unnoticed here. I have no control over what foreign cultures or governments deem illegal or inappropriate, but I am proud to live in a free country that has been built by generations of immigrants and people seeking freedom from religious persecution. We shouldn’t emulate other countries that don’t embody those ideals. And I believe the police can be cautious and do their jobs without going to defcon 1. Instead of treating people like a criminal off the bat, apologize and tell them that you have to follow certain protocols and you understand that they don’t like them, but it’s something you have to do. They should try to diffuse the situation. It makes it easier for everyone to do their jobs.

  40. The clerk needs to chill a bit. At the same time this man did little to help himself. If I go to the beach in a suit then I’ll get looks and people will wonder what I’m up to. If I hang a camera around my neck in NYC then I can assume people think I’m a tourist. This guy needed to try to blend in a little better. But the clerk also should have acted differently

  41. Objective facts:

    1) baltia all the way: everyone, except the Arabs
    2) Indeed, there is an Arab-fobia in the US and in Europe and the girl was wrong but she is not supposed to know this
    3) Switzerland now requires all Arab people to respect and BEHAVE according to the European standards otherwise they will be fined up to 5,000 CHF / reported issue
    4) If you’re a smart and wise Arab person then you’re smart enough to realize the current situation because of the terrorist and you’re not going to wear your traditional clothes outside the Gulf region no matter how religious you’re
    5) At the moment Arab people can’t complain because we let you behave religiously and wear your religious clothes and we don’t require you to act and behave according to Christian standards while the entire Gulf region hates and just temporarily tolerates non Muslim people because of business reasons and they requires us to act, behave and wear clothes according to their rules

    Long story short, this girl was wrong but she could have been right. Arab terrorism is a real threat and I’m happy to sea that the US government and law enforcement takes this really seriously. This guy should have know that he might be mistaken because of his origin. We can talk decades about whether it’s good, bad, ethical or whatever but this is a fact. There are 6+ billion non muslim people and this 6+ billion people fears from the 1+ billion muslim people because 99% of the terrorists are Arab muslims. Simple as that. So, if you’re a wealthy Arab people then you can afford to buy yourself a Brioni suit, a Rolex watch so you won’t be mistaken to a terrorist. If you’re not wealthy then you can still buy some jeans. Why? Because it’s your life and there are people from your religion (millions) who are terrorists and we can’t know if you’re one of them. Simple as that.

    I won’t response to anyone, these are the objective facts.

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