Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner has recounted the dramatic final moments with her children in Lebanon and revealed footage of the two kids, Lahela and Noah, after they were snatched off the street.
In the second episode of Australian Story's two-part special, Faulkner claims her children asked to come back to Australia with her as she initially ran from Lebanese authorities in a desperate attempt to keep her kids.
The mother-of-two was embroiled in the botched child recovery operation in Lebanon earlier this year, which left a 60 Minutes crew, Faulkner, and a child recovery team called CARI in jail cells for weeks.
The children now remain in Lebanon with Faulkner's estranged husband, Ali Elamine, after Elamine dropped charges for a US$500,000 deal with Channel Nine. The state is continuing to uphold charges of kidnapping against Faulkner, which could harm her access to her two children if she is convicted.
Recalling the botched child recovery attempt -- which you can read more about here -- Faulkner said it was "a matter of moments" before her children recognised her after they were taken from the street and put into a car with her.
I picked up the children. Nothing could have stopped me. I just ran as fast as I could with two kids, my two beautiful children, down the hall.Sally Faulkner
Elamine claims his mother was assaulted as the children were snatched from her and a nanny, but Faulkner said his mother tripped on the curb trying to hold onto Noah's bag.
"I said, 'It's Mummy, Lahela, Noah.' I repeated their names probably a hundred times in that minute, 'it's Mummy, it's Mummy,'" Faulkner told the program.
"I kept saying that, I kept reassuring them. I held onto their hand and just rubbed their back and it was literally a matter of moments, Lahela actually turned, looked at my face and took a breath and went, 'it's Mummy'.
"And in that moment, my heart, my heart opened up and I felt all this love that I'd been just dying -- dying to show them -- just poured out."
The driver of Faulkner's car told the program the children were put in danger as the army in the area are told to shoot any car travelling against traffic or at a reckless speed.
The mother and her two children were taken to a one bedroom "safe house" in Sabra, a poorer part of Lebanon. Faulkner said she doesn't know whether it was part of the initial plan.
"I started taking videos of the children, jumping around and, you know, having fun,and just being their normal happy selves, like I remembered them," Faulkner said.
"Lahela and Noah kept asking, 'Are we going back to Australia now, 'are we going back to Australia?' I had my 5-year-old daughter translating things [to neighbours], you know, that we needed food."
Adam Whittington, who declined to be interview for the program, brought the 60 Minutes crew to the safe house to film the reunion interview and Faulkner said the child recovery specialist told her to call Ali Elamine, explaining she had the children.
"Between the 60 Minutes crew and myself and the children, and then the actual family that lived there in a one bedroom apartment, it was quite confined," Faulkner said.
Whittington allegedly left and Faulkner began receiving messages on social media as news reports about a child abduction made headlines in Australia.
"The 60 Minutes crew and myself were just waiting for further instructions from, you know, CARI, that had been hired, so it was, again, it was just a waiting game, and we were waiting for a phone call that never came," Faulkner said.
"Tara said, 'Look, it's getting late, we're going to have to go too but hopefully we'll see you in the morning.' And I knew she was just trying to be positive for me and, you know, I was grateful for that, but I think by that stage I just knew the game was up."
A neighbour took Faulkner and the two children in and overnight, Faulkner had "lost the plot" waiting as no one answered her calls.
It wasn't until mid-morning Faulkner claims authorities arrived at the apartment.
"So I picked up the children. Nothing could have stopped me. I just ran as fast as I could with two kids, my two beautiful children, down the hall," Faulkner said.
"I looked at Lahela and she said, 'I can't believe this is happening to us,' and that's when I realised it's not okay and I felt like I was being selfish, very extremely selfish at that moment.
"If I wasn't going to be in their lives, it wasn't worth what I was doing now, so I grabbed their hands and I said, 'It's okay, we're going to go out and speak to them.'"
Faulkner was arrested and remained in a Beirut jail cell for weeks as negotiations continued. Elamine and Nine settled on a half a million dollar agreement which Faulkner's lawyer, Ghassan Moughabghab, claims was paid in one cheque.
"Ali found out that it was a matter where he can get a lot of money, so he focused on that," Moughabghab told the program.
"Ali dropped the charges against Sally and the crew of 60 Minutes. He requested $US1 million and then he accepted the amount of $500,000. And it was paid by Channel Nine by a single cheque in front of the judge."
I looked at Lahela and she said, 'I can't believe this is happening to us,' and that's when I realised it's not okay and I felt like I was being selfish, very extremely selfish at that moment.Sally Faulkner
After Faulkner and the crew were released, the Brisbane mother had a final moment with her children before she flew out of the country.
"The last time I saw my children was at a playground in Lebanon when I had to basically get on a plane that afternoon. [Ali] told me that I had an hour with the children before he had to go," Faulkner said.
"It was just lovely, just to hear their voices and their laughter and it reminded me of how it was in Brisbane."
A teary Faulkner said both children asked to return to Australia with their mother.
"I bent down and I said, 'Listen, Mummy loves you so very much. I don't know when I'm going to see you again, but just know that I love you with everything that I have, and no matter what anybody says to you, Mummy will always want you.
"I kissed Noah, and as I was strapping Lahela in she said to me, 'Wait, I have something for you.' And I just smiled, I said, 'What is it?'
"She said, 'I have a surprise, it's my Barbie ring.' And she pulled it off and she said, 'It's my favourite one. 'I want you to have it so you don't forget me.'"Suggest a correction