DENVER - 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-humored 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, Colo., 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 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 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.
Yesterday, Faulkner was being questioned by intelligence officials in Peshawar, Pakistan's main northwestern 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 for bin Laden.
"He talked about why he was so passionate" to find bin Laden, Scott Faulkner recalled, adding his brother retained vivid memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. "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.
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. "I'm worried about him," she 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 2001 attacks, which he is accused of masterminding. The federal government has offered a bounty of $25 million for information leading to his capture.