Dubai Police Arrest American Man Behind U.S. Consulate Prank

Police have arrested an American accused of being behind a hoax phone call that prompted the brief closure of the U.S. consulate in Dubai over security concerns, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Gulf News quoted Dubai's police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, as saying the man, who is an American of Lebanese origin, was in custody for making "a malicious report" and claiming the U.S. consulate in this city-state was under a security threat.

The man allegedly called the authorities twice from a public phone on Tuesday, claiming a Sudanese man was planning to harm the consulate, the police chief told the paper, which is close to the Dubai government.

The suspect allegedly wanted to expose the Sudanese man after he was cheated by him, Tamim added. The police chief did not answer the phone Friday and was not immediately available for comment.

The consulate was closed Wednesday to public business after a security alert from local authorities, but the top police official said an investigation found no direct evidence of a threat in the Gulf's commercial hub. The consulate reopened on Thursday.

There have been no major terrorist incidents in the Emirates. However, in June, Britain raised its terror warning to the highest level for its citizens living in the Emirates, saying at the time that "attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen at any time."

The U.S. at the time reminded citizens to remain vigilant to the threat of attacks.

Tamim said the man would be referred to Dubai's prosecutor for allegedly making a false report and wasting authorities' time.

The Sudanese man was also in detention and would be brought to court for allegedly cheating the American, he said. No other details were available, and the names of the two men were not revealed. Calls to the consulate went unanswered Friday.

Dubai is a major financial center in the Middle East and home to large numbers of expatriates. The emirate is part of a federation of seven city-states making up the United Arab Emirates, a close U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf.