Melvindale man detained in Saudi Arabia returns to American soil

‘The family truly believed that their father would never see America again’

MELVINDALE, Mich. – A Melvindale man is headed back to American soil Wednesday after being detained in the middle east for over a month.

Mohammed Salem was arrested on Nov. 8 during a pilgrimage with his two sons. He traveled to Saudi Arabia to visit a sacred building in Mecca when an argument in line ultimately led to his detainment.

Read: Melvindale man arrested during pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia after losing temper at Kaaba

“To hear the phone call from the family that Mohammed is on his way back and today he’s landing on American soil was the most wonderful news that anybody could hear,” said attorney Abdallah Moughni.

Moughni got a call at 2 a.m. from the family of Salem in Melvindale. They had just received a call that their father had been released from a maximum security prison In Saudi Arabia Wednesday (Dec. 7), placed on a flight, and was headed home.

Salem was never charged with a crime. He had been held since Nov. 1, and at the moment, very few details are being given.

“All we know is the state department got involved,” Moughni said. “Rashida Tlaib’s team did an amazing job. Senator Gary Peters’s team did a wonderful job. Robert Berschinski’s team with the National Security Council did a fantastic job. All of them played a role, and many of the government assistants played a role in helping bring Mohammed back, and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of them.”

Salem was on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia with his two sons when he got frustrated in a security line, telling two men that he’d burn the country down if it wasn’t for Mecca.

The two men that he told were security agents. It was at that moment when the family feared the worst.

“The family is so grateful,” Moughni said. “They truly believe that they would never see their father again. They truly believed that their father would never see America again. They thanked us, they thanked the media and all of the U.S. officials and all of the freedom fighting organizations for stepping in and helping this cause.”

Read: Melvindale man moved to maximum security prison in Saudi Arabia after losing temper at Kaaba


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.