Melvindale man detained in Saudi Arabia for a month returns home

‘America protects the freedoms, the innocent, and he is an innocent man’

MELVINDALE, Mich. – A few days after Mohammed Salem was detained in Saudi Arabia last month, his family contacted the media. They say that it definitely helped the Melvindale man gain his freedom.

Getting the news of his arrest out there not only helped him get home sooner, but it helped keep him safe in custody.

Salem of Melvindale walked into Detroit Metro Airport after about a month of being held in Saudi Arabia.

“He’s very happy to be back in this beautiful country,” said lawyer Majed Moughni. “Very happy to be back in the United States of America.”

Salem, 63, was on a pilgrimage to Mecca with his sons when he lost his temper as the line to get in was cut off.

His attorneys say he said, “If it weren’t for Mecca, we’d burn this entire country down.”

That was enough for authorities there to take Salem into custody. His family says early on that he was worried he could be beheaded.

“Of course, he was nervous,” Moughni said. “Of course, he was terrified. But he said it was his American passport that rescued him.”

Salem grew more nervous when he was moved to Dhahban Central Prison and, for a day or so, was treated worse than the terrorist suspects housed there.

But at that time, the American Ambassador intervened, and things improved.

“America protects the freedoms, it protects the innocent, and he is an innocent man,” Moughni said.

Salem credits the U.S. Ambassador and his lawyers for making his arrest public and making it possible for him to be released.

“This is power,” said Salem as he pointed to his American passport.

Salem’s sons are still in Saudi Arabia, not being detained, but they are there, and Salem says he’s not worried about them because they are American.

Read: Melvindale man detained in Saudi Arabia returns to American soil


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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.