Metro police: Man, missing daughter boarded flight to Middle East

Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 19:11:10-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Federal authorities have informed Metro police that a man who did not return his young daughter to her mother this week may be in the Middle East.

Youth Services Detectives asked the public’s help in locating 47-year-old Diab Alia and his 4-year-old daughter, Mariah, after he did not return the child to her mother this week per their child custody agreement.

On Friday, Metro police said the Department of Homeland Security told them that Alia boarded a flight to the Middle East on the same day he picked up Mariah from her mother on Sept. 3. She had been texting with Alia and since the phone was pinging in Nashville, she didn’t think anything was wrong.

When he had not returned their child by September 6th, she called police.

Diab never returned Mariah and she is still considered missing.

Police said arrest warrants charging custodial interference and an order of protection violation have been issued against Alia. Mariah has been entered into National Crime Information Center as a missing person.

Preston Findlay is an attorney for the National Center for Missing and Expolited Children and says cases like these are happening far more often than we're aware of. He says one of the biggest challenges early on is having the public and even various agencies take the matter more seriously even if it involves a parent.

"It is not often taken as seriously as other forms of child abduction or other categories of missing children in general. There is a tendency among the public as well as professionals, if you haven’t been personally impacted by a scenario like this, to treat it as less serious or to believe that the child is in no danger or that there is no harm occurring when a child is taken by their parent. Sadly we know that isn’t true," Findlay said.

Findlay says it's important to recognize that the separation of child from their parent or their home is harmful and "has immediate effects and also long-term harmful effects." That doesn't mean there's no hope as Findlay explains there are countless countries all over the world with agencies a lot like his, committed to tracking down missing children.

"There is an entire international treaty with nearly 100 countries that have joined and signed specifically on the civil aspects of international abduction. It creates a protocol for trying to return a child back to the United States. So no parent should be without hope in this scenario, but everyone including the professionals need to act promptly," Findlay said.

Because authorities didn’t have a specific car to link to Alia – and given that he works at an auto sales business and has access to several – an Amber Alert wasn’t issued. Additionally, because he’s a custodial parent without a violent history, it didn’t meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts was asked to contact the Department of Emergency Communications at 615-862-8600 or Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.