Earlier this month, a pair of explosions sent a billowing wave of destruction through the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. At last count, almost 200 people have died.
Nearly 9,000 miles away, Sally Faulkner – who was thrown into the public eye in 2016 when 60 Minutes tried to recover her children in Beirut – woke to the breaking news in her Brisbane home.
As the sun rose, her heart sank. Despite her desperate efforts, she hasn’t been able to contact them for four years.
She didn’t know if they were dead or alive.
Lahela, nine, and Noah, seven, live in Beirut with their father, Ali Elamine. In 2015, he took their children on a holiday to visit his parents. The next Sally heard was a Skype call when he informed her that “plans had changed. Lahela and Noah aren’t coming back to you. They’re staying here with me.”
Sally attempted to retrieve her kids with the help of a child recovery agency called CARI. Channel Nine’s flagship news program 60 Minutes offered to pay for the recovery in return for exclusive coverage of the story.
On April 6, 2016, the child recovery attempt took place, with Sally briefly being reunited with her two children before a police hunt ensued and she surrendered. Her children were returned to the custody of their father, and Sally and members of the 60 Minutes crew, including seasoned reporter Tara Brown, were briefly detained before charges were dropped and they returned to Australia. The incident made worldwide headlines.