Face of the day

Father Ali Elamine leaves court. Photo / Getty Images
Father Ali Elamine leaves court. Photo / Getty Images

Father Ali Elamine was one step ahead of the would-be abductors at every stage of the operation thanks to a secret network across Beirut.

From the moment Tara Brown, her crew and his estranged wife Sally Faulkner stepped off the plane, it’s believed he knew their movements.

He had been reading his spouse’s emails about the planned abduction on her iPad, and had cut off communication to prevent her from tracking him and the children.

He had hacked her private correspondence after refusing to return the children to Australia after she had sent them to him for a holiday? What a Prince among men; what a delightful specimen of humanity. Knowing how desperate she would be to get her children back he spied on her illegally, just like he took the children illegally.

When the desperate Brisbane mother arrived in Lebanon, surf school owner Mr Elamine was ready.

The Lebanese-American was rapidly tipped off about her arrival by associates, according to Fairfax Media. In the two days leading up to the botched abduction, a suspicious car was spotted trailing three-year-old When Ms Faulkner’s hired recovery agents grabbed the kids off the street on April 7 in the Hadath district – a Hezbollah stronghold – Mr Elamine was inundated with phone calls from the tight-knit southern Beirut Shiite community.

That’s when the 32-year-old phoned his estranged wife to check the children were safe, and police used the call to trace and arrest the mother, the agents and the 60 Minutes crew.

The bail hearing was postponed on Monday while lawyers for the different parties try to reach a deal, and Mr Elamine appears to hold the key to the Channel Nine crew’s freedom in his hands.

Lebanese-American has conveyed mixed messages about how he will use that power, with his lawyer telling journalists he was “in no hurry” to reach an agreement.

Earlier this week, Mr Elamine told News Corp journalists “Channel Nine dropped the ball” and he was inclined to “charge everyone involved”, because “if Sally goes out on bail, they all get out”.

He has insisted he was not interested in money, but Ms Faulkner’s lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab told News Corp: “Everything Ali is doing leads to one conclusion, that he is aiming for money.”

Mr Moghabghab revealed that Mr Elamine had said $250,000 or $350,000 meant nothing to him when it came to his children – suggesting any payout would have to be higher.

The Australian’s Jacquelin Magnay told 2UE radio the well-off Elamine family were likely to want a “big public apology” and “an enormous amount of compensation to repair their respectability“.

Since he abducted the children in the first place I am amazed that he considers he had any respectability in the first place. To blackmail his ex-wife into giving up custody of the children and making a huge financial payment in order to escape jail, Mr Elamine has revealed himself to be a man with no principles and utterly ruthless.

Mr Elamine may have something of an axe to grind. He told The Australian he had been portrayed in a bad light by the Australian media, with A Current Affair wrongly portraying him as an Islamic State fighter when covering Ms Faulkner’s story.

He told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell that he would not have been shown any compassion if things were the other way around.

“If the tables were turned and I had shown up in Australia and tried to kidnap someone, I probably would have been shot and called a terrorist,” he said.

Australia is the country that allowed him legal access to his children and allowed them to visit him in Lebanon. Lebanon on the other hand does not even recognise his wife’s legal custody of the children and allowed him to steal them. The only country that lacks compassion is Lebanon.

– news.com.au



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  • Nige.

    The whole mess is sorded and disgusting. The only people who are innocent are the children and they should be the focus of every aspect on every level from every party.

    But no.

    The story is waaaay too glamourus for the Lebanon or Australian media or in fact governments.

  • Anthony

    In Lebanon under sharia he has custody. Clearly he also has various “connections” in his country. Having an ipad hacked and answering a phone call points at a pretty sloppy operation. He’s certainly leveraging his position. Put it down to naivety and “the weak are meat and the strong shall eat”.

  • KGB

    I feel for the mother here, not the media or the kidnapping team.
    Women need to be very careful about the mates they chose. This not the first or last case of child abduction to foreign lands when mixed marriages go bad.
    Was she naive to allow her kids to ‘go on holiday’ with Dad, yes. But she probably made that decision in her children’s best interest, and all the promises of return. Dad obviously doesn’t put his children first because he has now seized the opportunity to gain full custody in exchange for her freedom.
    Perhaps the lesson here is to heed the warnings when marrying so far outside your own culture.

    • KatB

      Totally agree with you. I read a few books along the same line as this. Dad takes the kids for a “holiday” back to his homeland to visit grandparents and never returns them. In some cases when the girls have been older, dad’s already got husbands waiting for them. How gut wrenching for the mother. It makes you wonder if he was such a sweet talker and very deceitful, if the mother never expected anything like this to happen or if she was gullible. These men seem so westernised when the women meet them and marry them, but when kids come along, something seems to change. You wonder if that’s the game plan right from the word go. Be very careful when marrying outside your culture even if they appear to be on the same page as you. I hope and pray the children in this case are genuinely happy with dad, as I don’t see them being reunited with mum anytime soon.

      • Ruahine

        Some ‘Cultures’ are a lot worse than others when it comes to this sort of thing. It really then comes down to what laws and what Countries.

      • Usaywot

        Her husband has a strong Aussie accent so she probably thought he was westernised. He looks very “oily” to me and so certainly not someone i would trust. I agree that the wife was naive to let him take the children overseas but she was just being generous hearted and this is the thanks she gets.

        • Dave

          Its not an Aussie accent, he is a Lebanese American, spent some of his life in America, and a little time in Aussie. The full story will come out one day, they are a wealthy family.

    • Damon Mudgway

      While I agree with you KGB, conversely men need to be very careful about the mates they choose too. I’m a little more inclined to concur with your observations if you take gender out of the equation.

  • Justme

    I am on his side in this one. In Australia, as in New Zealand, the male is considered to be non existent under the law. I found that with my separation, I had to go to court to get access to my kids. The whole legal process was one sided and very un-legal. In what other judicial system is a Plaintiff not allowed to state their case first?
    Out of all the work colleagues over the years that have gone through a separation, or are in a relationship with a guy who has kids from a separation, every one that has problems with it, have been with the woman being the problem. The woman has with held the kids from the father, has made false claims about the father (proven in court to be false), and has abused the kids, or allowed them to be abused.
    Lebanon is no different from Australia or NZ, except that it gives the male the controlling position.

    • metalnwood

      I think views on this case are biased a little because the male has the children in a country like lebanon.

      Had it been a woman that took her children to her country france and and the man mounted an operation then it would look entirely different. If it was done exactly the same it would look like a mother doing whatever she could to protect/keep her children.

      The only difference being gender and race, imo.

    • cod

      In Nz, it’s all about the money because of Child support payments, you would be amazed of how many children get dumped on the fathers when the money stops.

  • Ross

    Whilst it’s hard to defend the husband in this instance, the mother was used as a pawn to sell a story by a 60 minutes crew who sanctioned and financed the kidnapping of two children from a foreign country. For them all to walk is the best outcome, but the schadenfreude in me wanted the 60 minutes producers to suffer for their outrageous actions. They’re supposed to report the news, not create it.

  • Crowgirl

    Where does it say he hacked her iPad? The reports say it was her iPad, so all he’s probably had to do is open up the email programme and read away.

    He’s obviously pretty ruthless, but I sounds like the mother is pretty clueless as well.

    I feel for the kids here – not much sympathy for anyone else.

    • Damon Mudgway

      Exactly CG, the truth of the matter is two nasty self serving pieces of dirt putting their interests WAAAY ahead of the kids. Happens all the time, will never change, and, quite frankly, the children in this case should be taken away from both parents.

      The mother buying into using the media to assist in retaking the children beggars belief. Hardly what I would call a professional operation. Shame on both these muppet parents.

  • Grizz30

    It seems this operation was executed poorly. What was channel 9 thinking. This whole operation needed to be done with a lot more stealth. The mother should not have been privileged to every move of the operation and she should have been told not to use electronics media to discuss the operation. The professional kidnappers will be fuming. They should have been allowed to operate on their own terms without media attention. As much as I have concern for the children, Channel 9 should be made a lot poorer for all this.

    • Sailor Sam

      Channel 7 in OZ is claiming that Channel 9 paid $1million for the release of the journos and mother.
      The professional kidnappers are still facing charges, but media here couldn’t care less about them.

      • Damon Mudgway

        So, one could conclude the system in Lebanon is completely corrupt. Whoever would have guessed in such a patriarchal society?

  • Dave

    The clash of cultures, I could write for page after page. But there are a few inconvenient truths for daddy dearest. The mother had legal custody of the kids from the Australan courts, but she foolishly granted him access to them so the could visit his relatives in Lebanon. Daddy advised the mother the kids would not return. Seems he did not like the fact she was in a new relationship about to be married and his children would be raised by another man. The Lebanese male would have had deep hurty feelings, and that trumps everything.

    The Lebanese law would not recognise the rights of the children, the Australian courts, Lebanese culture is about the Male Fathers rights, and not some loose Australian women as they would see it. The other issue, is surprise surprise Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague convention, nor are Most Arabic countries. Rather than go on, I suggest others refer to The Hague convention on wiki.

    I disagree with the reporters actions, and the recovery action was sloppy, but recovery was the only way she would ever get her kids back, as awarded by the Australian courts.

    • Odd Ball

      Who needs to watch ‘Home & away’, when you have stories like this in the news.

      • Dave

        The repeaters are on a plane on the way home, and no doubt there will be full coverage of the 1000 stories of their ordeal over the next few months. I have serious doubts the Lebanese way and system will come out smelling of roses.

  • spanishbride

    We are not all the same culturally. If my ex had custody and I kept the children and refused to let them go home after a holiday with me my parents would not support my actions. They would tell me to return them because my culture respects western law.This guy is clearly supported by his extended family in his actions.None of them respect western laws. Their worldview is very different to ours.

    I am half Lebanese so this is not about race. My culture is western. Western women who marry men from Arab countries need to understand that no matter what their religion is or even if they are not religious, Arab men are unlikely to view the world the way they do.We do not all think the same. This is why the problems in Western countries with Muslim migrants is actually our fault. We do not recognise that on key issues we don’t think the same.

    • Damon Mudgway

      You’re onto it SB, Western countries are slowly moving on from being controlled by pigheaded men. Sadly the Arab world still hold the view women are nothing more than sexual mattresses who occasionally pick themselves up to take the kids to school and get the groceries.

  • Dave

    Please see the link, an audio recording of Kyle and Jackie O interviewing the Father, he admits taking them as there was ANOTHER MALE around his kids, and he didn’t like it, poor diddums.

    “I decided its best for the kids to stay with me” ……….. “Liella kept saying mummy’s friend was always around and sleeping in the same bed, I wasn’t okay with that”


    • Odd Ball

      So basically the father couldn’t handle the fact that the mother had a new partner & he wasn’t so important anyone. Diddums

    • LesleyNZ

      I think now after today there is a lot we do not know about the situation with the parents. I don’t think it was just a case of “poor diddums”. I thought the father to be a bit of a pig doing what he did. Now after today’s interview with the father and as more truth is revealed about this family, I have kind of changed my mind. Media have been on the mother’s side. I can understand the dad’s point of view and how the dad was not OK about the situation with the boyfriend. Shame that it could not be sorted out in Oz. Sadly there are many children whose parents split up like this and the boyfriend then sleeps in daddy’s bed. This must be very difficult for a lot of children to cope with and accept and it does affect children. The real casualties of this saga will be the media who organised the kidnapping. Can’t understand why they did what they did in Lebanon.

      • Dave

        Lesley. I suggest you wait for the whole story to come out, in my humble opinion, the dad is a selfish spoilt wealthy brat. The mother might not have acted well, but the dad is the one I remain very suspicious about, and it remains my belief he will say anything to achieve what he wants, without regard to anyone else.