'I would have been shot, called a terrorist': Father of children involved in botched child abduction speaks out

Melissa Hills and Krystal Johnson

The father of the two children involved in the botched child abduction in Lebanon has spoken out about the incident saying that if the tables were turned, he would be "shot" and called a "terrorist."

Tara Brown, her 60 Minutes crew and Brisbane mother, Sally Faulkner, are currently being held in Lebanese jails after they were accused of attempting to abduct two children from a Beirut street on April 7.

Faulkner, and her estranged husband, Ali Elamine, have failed to come to an agreement over custody of their children and he has recently spoken out about the incident.

Ali Elamine is pictured with his two children, Lahela, 5, and Noah, 3. Photo: Facebook
Ali Elamine is pictured with his two children, Lahela, 5, and Noah, 3. Photo: Facebook
Ali Elamine said he won't drop charges because he believes it will lead to the release of the TV crew. Photo: 7 News
Ali Elamine said he won't drop charges because he believes it will lead to the release of the TV crew. Photo: 7 News

Elamine told 3AW his estranged wife and the Australian television crew had "done something illegal."

"If the tables were turned, if I were to show up in Australia trying to kidnap someone ... I would have probably been shot on the spot, called a terrorist," he said.

The 32-year-old father also said he wasn't willing to drop charges against Faulkner because he believes it would also lead to the release of the news team who filmed the operation, and those who carried it out.

“I didn't want to drop the charges 'cause I think the lawyer knows better than I do,” he told 7 News.

“I've never had anything against Sal but they are trying to link everything with her so I don't have time for that.”

Brisbane mum Sally Falkner is still behind bars with the Nine network news crew. Photo: Yahoo7
Brisbane mum Sally Falkner is still behind bars with the Nine network news crew. Photo: Yahoo7

Faulkner's lawyer, Ghassan Mogabgab, spoke to media before the hearing and said the mother offered to drop her claim for sole custody of Lahela, 5, and Noah, 3, but only if Elamine dropped the abduction charges.

Elamine commented that this was unlikely.

Photos emerged on Monday showing the moment police led a dishevelled Brown away in handcuffs after a court hearing in Lebanon.

Tara Brown was dressed head to toe in black when she was photographed being led from the Palace of Justice. Photo: Getty
Tara Brown was dressed head to toe in black when she was photographed being led from the Palace of Justice. Photo: Getty
Tara Brown being led into the police car after the brief court hearing on Monday. Photo: AAP
Tara Brown being led into the police car after the brief court hearing on Monday. Photo: AAP

The veteran journalist and her crew face at least another two nights in jail, after the hearing was postponed so lawyers could continue negotiations.

On Monday, Judge Rami Abdullah stressed the seriousness of the charges the defendants were facing.

"This is not a custody case," Judge Abdullah said.

"They are charged with kidnapping two kids."

It was the third time the women had appeared in court following their arrest earlier this month after a "child recovery" team snatched Ms Faulkner's two young children, Noah and Lahela, as they were walking with their Lebanese grandmother.

Tara Brown. Photo: AP
Tara Brown. Photo: AP


"That is how I am seeing it as an outsider. ... They are pushing for Sal's release and everyone else gets a green card."

The children were returned to their father soon after, and the 60 Minutes team arrived in Lebanon to film the operation - Brown, Benjamin Williamson, David Ballment and Stephen Rice - were then arrested.

They have been in jail in Beirut ever since.

Faulkner has been fighting to get access to her children for nine months, her lawyer Ghassan Moughabghab said, after Mr Elamine took them on a three-week holiday to Lebanon and did not return them as agreed.

The two others facing charges are believed to be members of the child-recovery agency hired for the operation - Britons Craig Michael and Adam Whittington.

Anxious families of the news crew are urging people to withhold judgment and focus on bringing them home.

"People forget that Tara, Stephen, Ben and Tangles were over there doing a job; covering a story," they said in a joint statement on Sunday.

"Obviously, this time, something went wrong.

"The analysis can come later. Right now, the priority is getting them all home."