CINCINNATI (AP) — A prosecutor is reviewing whether to pursue charges against an Ohio hotel clerk who raised suspicions that an Emirati businessman dressed in traditional clothing could have links to terrorism.
Businessman Ahmed al-Menhali (AH’-med ahl-men-HAHL’-ee) was handcuffed and detained briefly by police at gunpoint last week at a hotel in Avon in northeast Ohio before police determined he wasn’t a threat. Police had been responding to 911 calls from the clerk’s family, expressing fears that al-Menhali could have ties to the Islamic State group.
According to Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen, the clerk’s sister told police the clerk texted family members saying the man was “pledging his allegiance or something to ISIS,” using an acronym for the Islamic State group. Police later found that the man did not make any statements related to the Islamic State group and released him, Jensen said.
Jensen said Wednesday that the investigation into what occurred at the hotel has been turned over to the Lorain County prosecutor’s office to decide if a grand jury should consider any criminal charges against the clerk or anyone else.
Messages left for the prosecutor weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.
The treatment of al-Menhali, who collapsed moments after he was released and was briefly hospitalized, became front-page news in the United Arab Emirates, which has since warned its citizens to avoid wearing traditional garments abroad.
The Abu Dhabi government-owned daily The National on Tuesday quoted al-Menhali saying he was back in the hospital for tests after experiencing “an incredible amount of pain that I think is related to my heart surgery” following the arrest. The paper said he had open-heart surgery in February and “cannot lift heavy objects or put stress on his chest.”
The Emirati businessman couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. No telephone number could be found for him.
Jensen said the city has apologized to al-Menhali.
“We had a good discussion, and he seemed to accept the apology and seemed to be looking to work with us to bridge the gap of understanding between the two cultures,” Jensen said.
But the mayor also stressed that police were following the appropriate procedures used by the department when a possible active threat has been identified.
Avon Police Chief Richard Bosley said in a statement this week that while everyone should remain vigilant, reports to police have to be based on facts and not assumptions.
“You can put onlookers and our own officers in unnecessary danger if you report untrue information,” Bosley said.
Jensen said he and Bosley will continue to review the police response to determine if any changes need to be made in 911 response procedures.
Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.