Currently playing in a Beiruti jail and between the Lebanese and Australian governments is a story that, to say the least, is probably going to end up as a big Hollywood production soon. We can only hope whichever studio takes it doesn’t give the leading role to Nicholas Cage, or Carlos Azar for that matter.
Almost twelve months ago, Ali Elamine, in pure Lebanese patriarchal macho fashion, tricked his ex-wife Sally Faulkner into allowing him to take their two children, Noah and Lahela, on a supposedly temporary trip to Lebanon. Clearly, the trip turned out to be anything but temporary as Ali refused to return the children to their mother who hasn’t been able to see them since.
Obviously, such a situation is abhorrent. Ali Elamine is, to put it bluntly, horrible. Not only is he the embodiment of the stereotypes that Lebanese Australians have to endure, but is also such a disgusting creature for doing what he has done. He has no excuses. He is revolting. No one with any ounce of humanity and reasoning can be on his side. He is a disgrace and another entity to the growing list of things to make us ashamed of sharing a nationality with them.
To do what he did, Ali Elamine is using demented Lebanese laws that rely on the religious background of the parents, in this case the Shia Muslim court, which gives the father the upper hand in a custody battle. Add to that the fact that he is essentially legally untouchable in Lebanon, and you have a pretty much sealed case.
As a cry for help, Sally Faulkner, the mother, has been trying to rally media behind her cause for the past six months. On the Lebanese side of the world, nobody cared. Such cases are common enough with asshole Lebanese fathers ever present for her case to register on the Lebanese let-me-see-if-I-should-care scale. In Australia, however, the producers of 60 Minutes saw in Sally Faulkner a story. And this is when they started to turn the lives of her children into a circus show.
Up until now, the custody battle between Sally and Ali was only as such, a battle between two parents. It was unfortunate that the laws in Lebanon are retarded and that Ali is a revolting existence, but that’s how things are. Perhaps with enough media pressure in Australia, Lebanese media would have picked up on the issue and sided – as they should – with the mother, leading to enough attention over here for a safe and sane resolution of the issue.
Except that didn’t happen, because what took place was the following:
The crew of 60 Minutes, which airs on Channel 9 in Australia, paid around $120,000 for an international child recovery agency, with a spotty track record and multiple botched attempts reportedly, and flew with them and the children’s mother to Lebanon in order to recover them.
The recovery attempt occurred as follows: while the children were with their grandmother at a bus stop in Beirut, the crew of that agency, masked and all, rushed out of a van, grabbed the children, pushed their paternal grandmother aside, and rode away with them, reuniting them briefly with their mother.
The whole Hollywood-esque sequence was caught on surveillance cameras, prompting Lebanese authorities to stop the van, arresting everyone inside: the crew of 60 Minutes (including Tara Brown), the mother and the crew of the recovery agency, and – obviously – bringing back the children to their father who clearly knew he had the upper hand on home territory.
Ali Elamine’s path now is clear: play up the fact that his children are Lebanese and are governed by Lebanese sectarian law, and portray their mother as unfit, attacking her reputation, which in Lebanon is akin to a death sentence.
But the equally horrifying part in this whole story isn’t only Ali Elamine’s character, but rather how Australia’s 60 Minutes crew handled the entire affair.
For starters, what kind of reputable TV show pays over $120,000 for a children kidnapping agency, which is basically what that agency does, to kidnap children?
What kind of reputable TV show does what was mentioned previously not only to reunite the kids with their mother, but to get movie-esque kickass shots to boost their show’s ratings?
What kind of reputable TV show does so in the middle of Beirut, out of all places, without being aware of the laws governing the city, the relationship between the country where that city is located and their own home country?
What kind of reputable TV show is apparently seemingly unaware of what could possibly go wrong in basically kidnapping two children who are nationals of the country they’re kidnapping them from, taking them away from their father and trying to take them back to Australia? Do they not know that Lebanese children are NOT allowed to leave the country without the written and documented consent of their father?
What kind of reputable TV show puts the priority of a dramatic story over the well-being of the children involved, whose lives will be affected in more ways than anyone will ever imagine?
By doing what they did in Beirut, the producers of Australia’s 60 Minutes did more damage to Sally Faulkner’s case to have her children, to the lives of those children and to their reliability as a supposedly top notch investigative journalism show. In a perfect world, you can’t go back from such massive unprofessionalism, except they probably will. The only entities who will be permanently damaged are Noah and Lahela, whose chances of being with their mother have become next to zero, and whose lives have been turned into a real life circus, soon to be a Hollywood movie, or maybe even a book. In custody battles, one of the parents wins, but the children always lose. Now make that loss on an international, Hollywood-esque scale.
Well the mother probably got the news program involved to fund the whole thing. I haven’t found any confirmation anywhere that they were anything but “separated” . In my limited searching on google and in all of the articles written (mostly from the UK) no legal divorce decree or custody proclamation is noted by the Australian government. If in fact the children were not legally granted to the mother by the courts in Australia then she has nothing but her wishes backing her up! This is the legal situation in any country! There are parental abductions that take place everywhere and Lebanon certainly isn’t the only country that refuses to acknowledge even LEGAL custody documents from other countries. It sounds harsh but the mother did not follow through legally (it seems) on how to protect her rights in her own country, much less Lebanon. It makes sense to me that in her desperation she accepted (or reached out) to this news agency as a last ditch effort. Unfortunately it was a very, very unwise thing to do. In the articles I’ve read concerning this specific case, the reason the Australian government has not and cannot actually help is because NO legal divorce or custody was ever determined prior to the father’s travel with the children. It is heartbreaking for the children and only an idiot would believe they won’t be impacted terribly by the whole mess. I agree w/you that the father is a world class asshole but the mother was ignorant or negligent or both by not protecting her rights and her children by not following through legally in Australia prior to allowing them to leave her custody.
This is poorly written. “…the upper land on home territory.” and “…they’re kidnapping them from, taking away from their father…” To name a few.
You also seem to have an intense hatred for the father of these children. Is there something personal between you two? I’m not sure anyone can really know exactly what happened between the father and mother to result in the children being taken to Lebanon. What the mother did, though, is definitely stupid. If she had full custody of the children, one could argue the father abducted them and I’m sure the governments and laws would be on her side. Instead, she attempted to do exactly what she claimed the father did.
I feel sorry for the two kids, the only victims of this situation.
The man took his kids to Lebanon because he knew he had no chance in the femo-nazi infested Australian Family Courts, no man does, good on him. I hope the Lebanese authorities lock Tara Brown and the other self righteous clowns up for a minimum of ten years.
This man took his kids to Lebanon because he knew he had no chance in the femo-nazi infested Australian Family Courts, no man does, good on you mate. I hope the Lebanese authorities lock Tara Brown and the other self righteous clowns up for a minimum of ten years.
Some articles floating around mention that the couple and kids lived in Lebanon until the mother decided to move to Australia with the kids without informing the father.
There is more than one side of the story. This should have been solved through mediation and not hiring thugs.
she tried to speak to him for nearly a year, he refused to speak or even reply to her emails. He also kept his kids from even speaking to their mother, not even on their birthdays via phone. Thats something pretty twisted, not matter what the situation of their divorce, using your children as pawns to hurt the other party is despicable.
Thats not the case. She is divorced and in fact remarried. She did have custody in Australia, but whether she did or not – is not the point. The point is – These issues need to be in the media. Legal papers, top lawyers, government assistance DO NOT get your kids back. Parental Child Abduction is a horrific crime that is swept under the carpet at all levels of government, law and society. We know kids are taken sometimes, but you never hear of them coming back, or having reasonable contact with both of their parents for the long term. You can have every legal piece of paper needed in Australia, or even in Lebanon (or any other country for that matter) and you still wont be able to bring your kids home. I have been through this issue with another Middle Eastern country, and I am very educated on the issue and it is RARE to get a child back, even amongst Western countries (which also happens). It is argued in terms of time, and once a young child is ‘settled’ by force of time (as cases are drawn out and outrageously expensive), it is considered no longer to be in the interest of the child, for their return. Even if they are returned, the damage it causes, is often not worth the effort, as both child and parent have been alienated and suffer huge consequences for the rest of their relationship.
In my educated and experienced opinion, this mother and her two children haven’t lost anything. The children were already going to suffer mental anguish and abandonment issues, the mother didn’t have a chance in hell of ever seeing or hearing from her kids again anyway.
At least the father has been exposed and eventually it might be forced that the mother and father speak, but I would not expect a mentally unstable controlling parasite like the father (like any parent who does this to their child) will see past their own hurt and issues to even care about the mother and children’s point in all of it or their rights (which he holds).
In multi-cultural Australia, this issue needs better attention and factors to protect children. There is no easy answer, but one hopeless situation getting the spotlight is not a bad thing. They are no worse off in my opinion and I have been there.
The media certainly have avoided any mention of the Lebanese past, and the allegations that the mother did the kidnapping in the first place. But then, TARS is right, any man in Australia knows that the odds against him in Family Court are 7:1 against, and if he’s from a conservative background, probably worse. The assumption that “kids belong with the mother” is grossly sexist and indeed, anti-woman, because it perpetuates the stereotypes that first-wave feminists fought hard to dismantle. The further assumption that non-Western laws are intrinsically ‘barbaric’ as regards parenting seems to rest on the stereotype that fathers are inferior parents by nature. And if that’s true, then women *should* be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, then, shouldn’t they?
She did the same to him she took the kids on a holiday to see her mother and never returned to her husband, he traveled to australia a number of times to see his kids while she was shagging up with someone else and had another kid. He is American born in that country. Ali Elamine, a Lebanese American from Huntington Beach in California, runs the business Surf Lebanon in a tiny fishing village turned resort on the Mediterranean coast south of Beirut. I am with this guy all the way, they are his kids also, she moved on with someone else and as far as I know they still have not divorced.
What a ridiculous article. Ali Elamine is clearly a loving father, and has as much right as a parent than Sally Faulkner. Ms. Faulkner made a decision to leave Mr. Elamine and their home country of Lebanon, to move to Australia. She subsequently shacked up with another man, and now expects the children to live in Australia with her and this other man, instead of their father in the country they were living. Furthermore, she conspired to kidnap these children, in doing so breaking the law. She is a disgusting human being, and deserves to be imprisoned in Lebanon.
This was not an abduction; it was a rescue. What sort of grub would take children away from the mother. The fact that a stone-age religious cult could provide legitimacy in Lebanon to that appalling behaviour is even more evidence that we must support Israel as an oasis of civilisation and freedom in the middle east. As for foreign relations between Australia and Lebanon, all visas for travel of minors should be cancelled immediately and indefinitely.
I totally agree with Angie.
Racist ignorant prick
A few inconsistencies. The children were born in Australia – they are Australian citizens. A custody order from the Family Court in Australia was issued apparently in December last year giving sole custody to the mother. The family moved to Lebanon and lived there for 2 years until a 2013 bombing which claimed over 20 lives. Sally took the children back to Australia for their safety but never denied access to Ali Elamine. He visited often but didn’t want to live here. She has said that he was a good father, which is no doubt why she trusted him when he asked to take them on a holiday to visit his family. He then told her over Skype that they were not coming back. After allowing her some contact via Skype he has said that they got too upset so he ceased contact. Sally Faulkner has said Lahela would cry and ask when they could come home. On a TV interview recently Ali Elamine said that he justifies the non-contact to the children by telling them there is a time difference in Australia and their mother would be sleeping. He has admitted that the children want to be in Australia with their mother but has likened that to ‘wanting a new toy’. He has also been quoted as saying about his actions: “It’s a tit-for-tat type of thing, which is kind of silly and stupid …”