Would-be bin Laden assassin held in Pakistan: Calif. man, 52, was armed with pistol, sword and night-vision equipment.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – An American armed with a pistol and a 40-inch sword was detained in northern Pakistan and told investigators he was on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden, a police officer said Tuesday.
The man was identified as 52-year-old Californian construction worker Gary Brooks Faulkner, said officer Mumtaz Ahmad Khan.
He was picked up in a forest in the Chitral region late on Sunday, where he was “roaming in the security zone in a suspicious manner,” Khan said.
He was questioned Tuesday by intelligence officials in Peshawar, the main northwestern city.
Faulkner was hunting bin Laden because he suffered personal losses in the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khan said.
“We initially laughed when he told us that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden,” said Khan. But he said when officers seized the pistol, the sword and night-vision equipment, “our suspicion grew.”
Authorities told NBC News that the American was posing as a tourist and had received a police escort due to security risks in the area, which is common for foreigners visiting remote parts of Pakistan.
Provincial police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Malik Naveed, told NBC News that the bearded Faulkner said he wanted to support and “encourage” NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Eluded police escort
Faulkner arrived in the Chitrali town of Bumburate on June 3 and stayed in a hotel there. When he checked out without informing police, officers began hunting for him, said Khan.
An intelligence official in Chitral, who asked not to be identified, said Faulkner shouted, “Don’t come closer to me or I’ll open fire!”
Chitral police officials who arrested Faulkner told NBC News on the condition of anonymity that Faulkner said he was going to cross the border into the eastern Afghan region of Nuristan to kill two senior aides of Osama bin Laden.
The daily Dawn newspaper on Tuesday said Faulkner acknowledged to police that he wanted to “decapitate” Osama bin Laden.
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,” said Khan.
Khan said Faulkner was carrying a book containing Christian verses and teachings.
“He was also carrying medicines for kidney and blood pressure treatment,” and said that he was a kidney patient, a police investigator told Reuters.
Faulkner told police that he visited Pakistan seven times, and that this was his third trip to Chitral, which is across the border from Nuristan in Afghanistan.
The area is among several rumored hiding places for the al-Qaida leader, who has evaded a massive U.S. effort to capture him since 2001. Bin Laden is accused of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, as well other terrorist acts.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said the mission had received notification from Pakistani officials that an American citizen had been arrested. Snelsire could not comment on the nature of the arrest, NBC reported.
He said embassy officials were trying to meet the man and confirm his identity.