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Emirati held in US rejects apology, seeks $200m in damages

Sherouk Zakaria and Bernd Debusmann Jr/Dubai
Filed on July 5, 2016 | Last updated on July 5, 2016 at 01.09 am
Emirati held in US rejects apology, seeks $200m in damages
A screen grab shows Emirati businessman Ahmed Al Menhali being held by US Forces.

(Supplied photo)

Ahmed Al Menhali detained by US Police over false accusations of being linked to Daesh says his arrest is pre-planned


An Emirati man who was arrested by US Police over false accusations of being linked to Daesh refused to accept apology from American officials.

Speaking over the phone, Ahmed Al Menhali, businessman and a father of three, told Khaleej Times he will not settle for less than $200 million compensation over physical, psychological and financial damages "the attack" has resulted in.

"I could see the hate in their eyes. Their intention was to kill me," said Al Menhali, who was in Ohio's Cleveland for business and medical check-ups following health complications including a previous stroke.

Deeply regrettable, says US embassy

On the official Facebook page of the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Ambassador Barbara Leaf noted that "the unfortunate incident that Al Menhali endured in the US is deeply regrettable."

"We were heartened to see that the City Mayor and Chief of Police met with Al Menhali and apologised, saying no disrespect was intended and that it was regrettable that he was put in that position because of a false accusation," the statement adds.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) has summoned the US Deputy Chief of Mission Ethan Goldrich over the case.

According to Wam, US Deputy Chief of Mission apologised for the incident and affirmed that the embassy will be in contact with the concerned authorities in Ohio to clarify the matter. He noted that the United States respects the right of different nations to wear their national dress, adding that this incident was an exception which was unacceptable.

He added that the incident disrupted a $70million business deal he has been working on for a year with a pharmaceutical company in San Diego and discussions on latest findings in the health industry.

He called the incident an attempt to disrupt businesses that can bring income to GCC countries.

"The UAE gets most of its profits from the pharmaceutical industry or the oil field. People involved did not want Arab countries to develop in the medical field."

Al Menhali, who wore the kandoora (national dress), was detained after a clerk at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon called the police and claimed he pledged allegiance to Daesh. He fainted as police released him and was taken by the ambulance to St John Medical Centre.

He said that the police and officials' apology was carried out without full investigation with the hotel or the clerk herself. He said it was "merely a cover" on the hate incident that targeted him.

"I am happy an apology came through. It means that there's a step forward, but that does not mean their apology is accepted nor that I will give up on my right," Al Menhali said.

"People's life is not a game in an armed officer's hands."

The 41-year-old businessman stressed that the hotel clerk knew the reason behind his visit and had the intention of disrupting his business.

'It was plotted'

Al Menhali said the clerk, a 22-year-old woman, tried to keep him in the lobby for as long as possible. "She tracked me and planned to call the police as I was in the lobby. Every time I wanted to leave, she found ways to keep me."

He described the police's treatment to him as "inhumane" and "demeaning."

"When they first yelled at me to get down, I thought there was a problem at the hotel from which they were trying to protect me," said Al Menhali.

As the police approached him, he said having history of a previous stroke posed challenges for him to abide by their requests.

"I could barely move, so I found it difficult to get on the ground. I feared they would kill me if I didn't listen to their orders."

He added that the police pressed forcefully on his back, which caused him several injuries. They forcefully threw his mobile phones on the ground, which, for him, is not an action normally committed against a suspect.

"They did not even stop to investigate or talk to me. I was not treated like a suspect, but I was a target. I felt like they attempted a murder even if it was a mistaken one."

Al Menhali, who is still in the US to continue his treatment, added that his health condition has not stabilised yet.

"I feel dizzy the whole time and I am still in a lot of physical pain. I cannot sleep as I see nightmares every time I close my eyes."

Not the first time

Al Menhali said the incident was not his first encounter with the police. Officials previously stopped him three times over resident calls that viewed him as a threat due to his traditional dress.

While the previous times he received a 'polite' treatment, Al Menhali said he cannot forget the manner the officials detained him without any communication that invaded his rights.

Asked whether he would go to the US again, Al Menhali said he would only if he was secured by UAE government.

He stressed that he cannot forgive the hotel clerk until a full investigation showed the nature behind the incident.

sherouk@khaleejtimes.com

Also read: 'Racist' act by US police sparks outrage in UAE





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