Tara Brown, 60 Minutes: Ali Elamine talks to radio show

By Debra Killalea

The father at the centre of the botched kidnapping plan said he believes he was deliberately deceived into being away from his children - with a surf lesson used as a diversion.

Speaking to Kyle and Jackie O this morning on KIIS 106.5 (an Australian radio show), Ali Elamine said he received a Facebook message asking for a surf lesson at the time he normally drops his children at school.

The "insistent" client asked for it to take place at 7am and he initially said no, explaining that he needed to drop the children off.

However, he eventually agreed after his mother stepped in to take them instead.

"I run a surf school called Surf Lebanon and I got a Facebook message asking me if I could give a lesson at 7am but I said I had to drop kids off," he told the hosts.

He said the client kept on insisting and his mother who occasionally dropped the kids at school agreed to take the children instead.

When asked if he believed the lesson was orchestrated he said he believed it was a diversion.

"They did a run on Tuesday and saw me with the kids but never went through with it because they figured I'd fight back. And they figured if they get me away then an older lady in her 70s and her helper won't be much of a threat ... to a 6"3 guy," he said.

The American-Lebanese father also insisted he has done nothing wrong regarding the children and it was those involved in the kidnap attempt who have broken the law.

Mr Elamine said he himself hadn't broken any laws and that he wasn't even divorced from Australian wife Sally Faulkner.

He admitted to Kyle and Jackie O, that he was aware of the plot after following her conversations over an iPad and pleaded with her not to do anything to risk the safety of the children.


He also maintained he has not received a cent from Channel 9 over the release of 60 Minutes crew Tara Brown, Ben Williamson, David Ballment and Stephen Rice.

"Everyone keeps on saying I got compensated," he said.

"I really hope I get something but my main deal with Sally was dropping the custody - it was all about the custody of the kids, I couldn't care about Channel 9," he said.

He was then asked if he has full custody then surely Channel 9 had to pay something to get their crew back.

"Everyone is saying I got paid millions," he said.

Jackie then asked: "Ali did you get paid anything?"

"Nothing, not a dime," he said.

"Money is not an issue all I care about is kids. The only thing I requested is not to use the footage (kidnap) and keep the kids out of this, they're only hurting the kids," he said.

Kyle then asked who was being paid.

"It's Lebanon, someone is getting paid. Did they pay the judicial system, the brown paper bag is allowed sometimes right?"

The 60 Minutes crew (clockwise from top left) Tara Brown, Ben Williamson, Stephen Rice and David Ballment.
The 60 Minutes crew (clockwise from top left) Tara Brown, Ben Williamson, Stephen Rice and David Ballment.

Mr Elamine insisted he has not received a thing, adding "to be honest it's more of a political thing."

The father then said he was open to the children seeing his wife and had arranged for a meeting to take place tomorrow.

But he said he still believed the best place for them was in Lebanon with him.

When Jackie asked him what it was about Sally's parenting style he didn't like he said: "Lahela kept on telling me mummy's friends would sleep in the same bed and was always around, and I wasn't OK with that," he said.

Jackie asked if that was her current husband or partner but he said they were still married so it wasn't her husband.

"We're not divorced yet so she can't remarry, she obviously figured the only way to get 'em was to kidnap 'em or whatever," he said.

Mr Elamine also denied he was taking his time and trying to make them all suffer in the lead up to the charges being dropped.

"That's not true," he said.

"Initially everyone wanted to ride off Sal's back so someone has to pay. Everyone broke a country's law, my mum received concussion.

"She's a 70-year-old lady who got chucked around like she's a bag of chips.

"Someone did that and someone has to pay."

Acknowledging the 60 Minutes crew were just doing their job, he said the child recovery agency should face justice.

Mr Elamine dropped the charges against his estranged wife, Ms Faulkner, saying he did not want his children to think he'd left their mother in jail.

However it came at price - in return she must grant him a divorce and custody of the children.

She has rights to visit them in a third country or Lebanon, but not in Australia.

Child Abduction Recovery Network boss Adam Whittington and fellow Briton Craig Michael remain in jail.


Mr Elamine enjoys a relatively comfortable life in Lebanon but is hardly the influential wealthy person some would believe.

Australian Muslim community leader Jamal Rifi told news.com.au that Mr Elamine was far from powerful and therefore couldn't use his influence to his advantage in this case.

Responding to speculation about the strength of his power within Lebanon, Dr Rifi said Mr Elamine was middle class and while distantly related to a member of the parliament, was just like any other person.

It was reported earlier this month that the release of the 60 Minutes crew was complicated by Mr Elamine's political connections.

His mother is the cousin of the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament Nabih Berri, Fairfax reported.

However Dr Rifi insists he would have had no bearing on the outcome of the case.

"He (Mr Berri) had nothing at all to do with this, he did not play a role," he said.

"And he (Mr Elamine) is not wealthy, he is just middle class."

Dr Rifi said claims that political party Hezbollah were involved in the case were also untrue with the botched attempt "an embarrassment to all parties involved."

"Lebanese decision makers and government officials would have wanted a quick resolution so as to not affect diplomatic ties with Australia," Dr Rifi said.

While acknowledging Mr Elamine did ask for money from Channel 9, Dr Rifi said he had not received it "as yet."

He also praised Channel 9 for using all legal, political and diplomatic means possible to get its team out of the situation quickly.

- news.com.au

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