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Melvindale man "proud to be an American" after being freed from prison in Saudi Arabia

Melvindale man "proud to be an American" after being freed from prison in Saudi Arabia
Melvindale man "proud to be an American" after being freed from prison in Saudi Arabia 01:56

(CBS DETROIT) - After spending nearly five weeks in a maximum security prison in Saudi Arabia, a Melvindale man is finally back home.

As he arrived off of a flight to Detroit Metro Airport Thursday, "salam alaikum", translated as "peace be upon you" in English, was the Arabic-speaking Mohamed Salem's first words to reporters fresh off the plane.

"He's very happy to be back," family attorney Majed Moughni told reporters. "Back to the United States!" Salem replied with excitement. 

As for family attorney Abdullah Moughni, who helped contact local, state and national leaders to assist in retuning Salem back to the States, he calls Salem's return a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to witness.

"What a beautiful moment that was and we couldn't be more grateful he's back on American soil," Abdullah Moughni says.

However, Abdullah Moughni says it is Salem's last words in Saudi Arabia with two undercover Saudi officials that turned a pilgrimage to Mecca with his two sons into a five-week seat inside a maximum security prison.

"He said if it were not for Mecca and Medina, we would burn this country to the ground," Abdullah Moughni explained.

But after receiving a call on Wednesday, Salem was notified he was not going to be charged or convicted of any wrongdoing, and was surprisingly let go.

"Did you ever think this day would come?" Abdullah Moughni was asked. "Not as soon as it did and I'm sure he didn't either. We are so grateful," he replied.

Met with many questions, Salem explained his path to freedom saying it was the passion of the American people, an the pride for his American passport that held the power to get him back home.

"Of course, he was nervous. Of course, he was terrified. But he said it was this American passport that rescued him. They set him up. They entrapped him. And they were going to put him away for a very long time," Majed Moughni says.

As a vehicle with his brother and loved ones arrived to take him from the airport to his Melvindale home, Salem did not leave before one last goodbye.

"God bless you. God bless America," Salem said.

According to Abdullah Moughni, Salem's two sons, who initially traveled to Saudi Arabia with him, have elected to stay there and finish the trip they started with their father. They are expected to return to the United States later this month.

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