June 15, 2010
DENVER — An American man has been detained in the mountains of Pakistan after local authorities found him carrying a sword, pistol and night-vision goggles on a Rambo-style 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 often talked about building a porch or framing a house — not taking down the world's most-wanted terrorist. They had few clues to explain his 7,300-mile journey.
"I'm like, 'What? They got him where?'" said Daren Paredes, a friend who met Faulkner in the northern Colorado town of Greeley. "He's a joker, and he's real talkative. ... He never really talked about terror or anything like that."
The 51-year-old Faulkner, who has a lengthy arrest record and served time in a Colorado prison, arrived in the town of Bumburate on June 3 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.
He said 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, said her brother's kidney disease 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, adding that her brother was "very religious" without elaborating.
Faulkner has lived in both Colorado and California, his sister said.
At his last known address, a modest apartment building in Greeley, no residents answered their doors Tuesday. An apartment manager would not confirm whether Faulkner still lived there.
"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.
Faulkner served seven years in prison in the 1980s for burglary and theft. Since 1981, he has been arrested at least 10 times on charges ranging from traffic violations to felony larceny and domestic violence, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The Larimer County sheriff released a mug shot from Faulkner's 2006 arrest on charges of failing to have car insurance. In the photo, he has 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.
On Tuesday, Faulkner was being questioned by intelligence officials in Peshawar, the main northwestern city. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Khan said Faulkner told investigators he was angry after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
"I think Osama is responsible for bloodshed in the world, and I want to kill him," Khan quoted him as saying.
When 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.
Faulkner allegedly told 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.
She said family members have not heard from him since he left the country.
Chris Brummit reported from Islamabad. Associated Press Writer P. Solomon Banda in Denver and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York also contributed to this report.