Armed with a pistol, dagger, sword and night-vision equipment, American goes hunting for Osama bin Laden
This May 30, 2010 picture provided by Dr Scott Faulkner shows his brother Gary Brooks Faulkner at the Denver International Airport en route to Pakistan
June 16, 2010 - 9:47AM
An American construction worker has been detained in the mountains of Pakistan after authorities there found him carrying a sword, pistol and night-vision goggles on a solo mission to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.
Catching bin Laden was Gary Brooks Faulkner's "passion", his brother said, noting that the 50-year-old has been to Pakistan at least six times, learned some of the local language and even grew a long beard to blend in. Relatives and acquaintances said Faulkner is a devout, good-humoured Christian who requires dialysis and did time in prison years ago.
"A lot of kids grow up and say, 'I want to be Rambo', you know? Well, he is," said Faulkner's brother, Scott Faulkner, 43.
Gary Faulkner arrived June 3 in the town of Bumburate and stayed in a hotel there. The Greeley, Colorado, man was assigned a police guard, as is common for foreigners visiting remote parts of Pakistan.
When he checked out without informing police, officers began looking for him, according to the top police officer in the Chitral region, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan. Faulkner was found late on Sunday in a forest.
"We initially laughed when he told us that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden," Khan said. But when officers seized the weapons and night-vision equipment, "our suspicion grew". He said the American was trying to cross into the nearby Afghan region of Nuristan.
Chitral and Nuristan are among several rumoured hiding places for bin Laden along the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment generally deny the possibility that bin Laden is hiding somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border, as Western intelligence agencies believe.
On Tuesday, Faulkner was being questioned by intelligence officials in Peshawar, Pakistan's main north-western city. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Scott Faulkner dropped his brother off at Denver's airport May 30, and the two discussed the possibility Faulkner would not return alive from his search of bin Laden.
"He talked about why he was so passionate" to find bin Laden, Scott Faulkner recalled, adding that his brother retained vivid memories of the September 11 attacks. "He has not forgotten."
But Scott Faulkner insisted his brother was on a rational mission.
"He's as normal as you and I," Scott Faulkner said. "He's just very passionate, and, as a Christian, he felt, when Osama mocked this country after 9/11, and it didn't feel like the military was doing enough, it became his passion, his mission, to track down Osama, and kill him, or bring him back alive."
Scott Faulkner said his brother sold all his tools to finance his trip and was prepared to die in Pakistan. He also said his brother took no weapons and had a valid visa for Pakistan. Scott Faulkner hoped his brother wouldn't be charged with a crime.
Faulkner's sister, Deanna M. Faulkner of Grand Junction, Colorado, said her brother suffers from kidney disease that has left him with only 9 per cent kidney function. But she told The Associated Press that she did not think his illness was his motivation to go to Pakistan.
"I don't believe this was, 'I'm dying, and I'm going to do a hurrah thing,'" she said.
Khan said Faulkner told investigators he was angry after the September 11 attacks.
"I think Osama is responsible for bloodshed in the world, and I want to kill him," Khan quoted him as saying.
Asked why he thought he had a chance of tracing bin Laden, Faulkner replied, "God is with me, and I am confident I will be successful in killing him," Khan said.
He said police confiscated a small amount of hashish, enough for a single joint, from Faulkner.
"I'm worried about him," Deanna Faulkner said. "I'm worried that in Pakistan, they won't give him his dialysis. And if he doesn't get it, he's in serious trouble."
Bin Laden, who is also reported to have kidney problems, has evaded a massive manhunt since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which he is accused of masterminding along with other attacks. The US federal government has offered a bounty of $US25 million for information leading to his capture.
Hugo Corral, who owns a barber shop in Greeley, recalled cutting Faulkner's hair a few months ago. He said Faulkner was quiet and wouldn't answer his questions. After the haircut, Corral said, he saw Faulkner acting strangely outside his shop.
"He would walk, then stop, then do something like he was saluting something. It was kind of weird," Corral said. Through the glass of his shop, he said he could hear Faulkner cursing at no one in particular.
Stacey Stienmetz, who lived in Faulkner's apartment building in Greeley, described him as adventurous. Two years ago, he recalls Faulkner planning a hang gliding trip. More recently, he said Faulkner spoke about going to Pakistan to climb a mountain.
Gary Faulkner was in and out of Colorado state prisons between 1981 and 1993, serving a total of about seven years in five separate stints for burglary, larceny and parole violations, state officials said.
The Larimer County sheriff released a mug shot from a 2006 arrest on charges of failing to have car insurance. It shows Faulkner with shoulder-length gray hair parted in the middle with bangs that reach the sides of his wire-rim glasses.
He also has a shaggy, black beard with traces of gray hair in it, and he appears to be wearing a camouflage-patterned shirt. A family photo of him leaving Denver's airport for Pakistan on May 30 shows him with a beard.
Faulkner told Pakistani police he visited Pakistan seven times, and this was his third trip to Chitral, a mountainous region that attracts adventurous Western tourists and hikers. Unlike much of north-western Pakistan, it is considered relatively safe for foreigners.
Deanna Faulkner said her brother had been "all over the world many times" but declined to give details of past trips.
US Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said the embassy had received notification from Pakistani officials that an American citizen had been arrested. He said embassy officials were trying to meet the man and confirm his identity.
Deanna Faulkner said her brother usually gets dialysis every three days but can go up to two weeks without it.
"We contacted the State Department to let them know of his medical condition and that his family is here and we love him," she said.
American Gary Faulkner hunting for Osama arrested in Pakistan