Desperate mother Sally Faulkner has admitted she spends hours scouring the internet for pictures of her alienated children in Lebanon, as she posted an image of her daughter looking forlorn at school in the Middle Eastern nation.
Ms Faulkner wrote the photo – originally shared by her daughter’s school – showed her six-year-old daughter Lahela looking “so lost” and that it was “enough to break me into a million pieces”.
The story of Lahela, Ms Faulkner and her other child, Noah, 4, rose to prominence in April when a 60 Minutes crew and a child recovery expert went to Lebanon with Ms Faulkner to abduct the children from their father, Ali al-Amin.
The abduction went awry and the 60 Minutes crew, child recovery team and Ms Faulkner were arrested and thrown into a Lebanese jail.
After two weeks the prisoners were released, except for the child recovery team, which remained in jail for 104 days.
Mr al-Amin flew the children to Lebanon in May 2015 for a holiday but has not returned them to Australia or allowed Ms Faulkner to see them.
In the school photo, Lahela can be seen on the far right, leaning against a wall, looking away from the camera.
Ms Faulkner has been very public in her battle to be reunited with her children.
An administrator on Faulkner’s Facebook page wrote about how Ms Faulkner scours the internet for information on her children.
“Sally spends hours each day searching the internet for any photo, any proof that her children are ok,” the post wrote.
Ms Faulkner’s friends have started a crowdfunding campaign to help fund legal fees involved in bring the children back to Australia.
This photo right here!!!!!! Found on the school page.. This was enough to break me into a million pieces today. ALI LOOK…
Since the botched recovery attempt, Ms Faulkner has set up a Facebook page to document her struggle, given numerous women’s magazine interviews and appeared in a two-part ABC Australian Story program about her plight.
Alongside the photo of her daughter at school Ms Faulkner pleaded with her estranged husband.
“ALI LOOK AT OUR LITTLE GIRLS FACE!!!!”, Ms Faulkner wrote. “Isn’t this enough for you [?]. What is she thinking in this moment? She looks so lost!”
One person commented on the photo writing: “So heartbreaking, she needs her mummy. Stay strong for them Sally.”
Ms Faulkner has posted numerous times on the page vowing to fight on and not rest until her children are back in Australia and in her care.
The Australian Story program on the saga revealed the 60 Minutes crew’s presence during the failed abduction likely led to the mission being unsuccessful.
The crew checking into the Beirut hotel along with high-profile journalist Tara Brown alerted Lebanese authorities to something being amiss, local reporter for The Guardian Martin Chulov said.
Then, Ms Faulkner’s Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moughabghab revealed another possible mistake.
He was told by Ms Faulkner that she possessed an Australian court order giving her custody of the children.
He believed the court order could secure the children’s return to Australia and so requested it from Ms Faulkner.
For some reason she never sent that to Mr Moughabghab.
“I knew that Sally got a judgement from the Family Court of Australia giving her the custody,” he said.
“I advised her to send this judgement to me so I can execute it here in Lebanon. I don’t know for what reason she didn’t do that, although I was following her, asking her all the time.”
Mr Moughabghab said the Nine Network paid Mr al-Amin $500,000 for him to drop the charges against Ms Faulkner and the 60 Minutes team.
The group could still face charges brought by local Lebanese authorities.