Tags: AS | Pakistan | Bin | Laden | Hunter

Colo. Man Went On Solo Mission to Kill Bin Laden

Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 06:36 PM

 

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An American man has been detained in the mountains of Pakistan after authorities found him carrying a sword, pistol and night-vision goggles on a solo mission to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.

Friends and family say construction worker Gary Brooks Faulkner is a devout, good-humored Christian who was "on a mission" to kill or capture Osama.

"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. He said his brother made five previous trips to Pakistan.

The 50-year-old Faulkner, who has a lengthy arrest record and served time in Colorado prisons, arrived June 3 in the town of Bumburate and stayed in a hotel there. He 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 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 rumored 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.

Faulkner's sister, Deanna M. Faulkner of Grand Junction, Colo., said her brother suffers from kidney disease that has left him with only 9 percent 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.

Scott Faulkner said his brother was very religious and carried a Bible with him at all times but wasn't planning to proselytize. 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 Sept. 11 attacks. "He has not forgotten."

But Scott Faulkner insisted his brother was on a rational mission.

"He's as normal as you 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.

On Tuesday, Gary Faulkner was being questioned by intelligence officials in Peshawar, Pakistan's main northwestern city. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Khan said Faulkner told investigators he was angry after the Sept. 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," his sister 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 Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which he is accused of masterminding along with other attacks. The federal government has offered a bounty of $25 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.

Faulkner allegedly 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 northwestern 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.

U.S. 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.

——

Chris Brummit reported from Islamabad. Associated Press Writers Kristen Wyatt and P. Solomon Banda in Denver, Catherine Tsai in Greeley, Colo., and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York also contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS UPDATES throughout with new details from Faulkner's brother, Greeley neighbor. corrects age to 50 per family and records.)

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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