ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The U.S. has spent nine years and billions of dollars trying to hunt down Osama bin Laden amid the rugged, lawless badlands along the Pakistani-Afghan border.
But according to Pakistani officials and his own family, Gary Brooks Faulkner of Denver thought he could get the job done himself, with a pistol, a dagger and night-vision goggles.
Faulkner talked with family members about his quest, and at Denver International Airport on May 30 he was asked what his family should do if he came back from Pakistan in a body bag.
Faulkner, 50, and his younger brother Scott discussed Gary’s desires for cremation. Scott snapped a farewell picture on his Blackberry. Then Gary, a construction worker with failing kidneys, boarded a plane for Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Pakistani police said they had arrested Faulkner in a remote, mountainous region near the Afghan border.
“He’s not insane,” Scott Faulkner told reporters in Denver on Tuesday. “He’s just very passionate.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Scott said, his brother – a devout Christian with no military training – has taken at least six trips to Pakistan to find bin Laden.
“After Osama mocked this country on 9/11 and it seemed that the military wasn’t doing enough, it became his passion, his mission, to track down Osama and kill him or bring him back alive,” Scott Faulkner said. A physician, Scott described his brother, who is divorced with one adult son, as charming, chatty and in fine mental health.
Pakistani police quoted Gary Faulkner as telling them he was “on a mission to decapitate bin Laden.” He had been staying at a hotel in the town of Bumburate in Chitral since June 3. Local police were providing security for him, not uncommon in border regions where kidnappings and killings of foreigners have occurred.
But on Sunday, he sneaked out of the hotel without telling the officer who was assigned to him.
After a 10-hour manhunt, he was picked up on a mountain path as he was trying to make his way into Nuristan, an eastern Afghanistan province that abuts Chitral, according to Pakistani officials.
It is one of the areas where bin Laden is rumored to be holed up. Scott Faulkner said his brother had developed intelligence from sources he would not reveal that bin Laden may be on a specific mountain honeycombed with caves and rocky hiding spots.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said the embassy had been notified of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, and was working on arranging a consular visit with that individual. Snelsire declined further comment. Scott Faulkner said he was in touch with the State Department, which he believed was working to secure his brother’s release.
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