ISLAMABAD: The US 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, Colorado, thought he could get the job done himself, with a pistol, a dagger and night-vision goggles.Mr 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.Mr 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 Mr Faulkner in a remote, mountainous region near the Afghan border. ”He’s not insane,” Scott told reporters in Denver on Tuesday. ”He’s just very passionate.”Since the September 11 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.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. He was moved to the city of Peshawar for questioning, they said.It is one of the areas where bin Laden is rumoured 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. Gary Faulkner had seen armed men with two-way radios patrolling the area and wanted another look.An avid outdoorsman and hunter raised north of Denver, Gary Faulkner had learnt how to live off the land in the mountains of Colorado. He thought, Scott Faulkner said, that his hunting skills would help him track down bin Laden.During his initial trips he ran into mercenaries hoping to collect the $US25 million ($29 million) bounty the US has placed on the al-Qaeda leader’s head. But in recent trips it seemed no one was looking any more.The journeys were risky, though Gary always secured Pakistani visas and was in the country legally, Scott Faulkner said. One time, the Taliban discovered the hotel where his brother was staying and shot the guard there ”between the eyes”.Gary Faulkner fled. Scott wired him money and the US embassy helped get him out of the country.”The first couple of times, it was a shock to the family,” Scott Faulkner said of his brother’s travels. ”We don’t go to Pakistan looking for mass murderers.”The family grew to accept Gary’s obsession and decided it was in character for a man who spent years in Central America, repairing hurricane damage and building churches, or who would vanish for days on a hunting trip and abruptly bring back an elk.Colorado media reported that Gary was convicted of burglary and larceny charges in the 1980s, but his brother would not answer questions on that issue.Last year, Gary Faulkner was diagnosed with a severe kidney ailment and placed on dialysis. He was unable to continue his construction work, which had financed his previous travels to Pakistan. He moved into an apartment in a building owned by Scott, who thought his brother’s hunt for bin Laden was over.However, Gary Faulkner sold his construction equipment and bought a return ticket to Islamabad, leaving on May 30 and due to return Monday.A spokesman for the US embassy, Richard Snelsire, said the embassy had been notified of the arrest of a US citizen, and was working on arranging a consular visit with that individual. Mr 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.Gary Faulkner had called Scott last week to report he had received dialysis in southern Pakistan and planned to return north to resume his search.”Gary is a Christian,” Scott Faulkner said. ”He understands that, if he dies, I will see him again in heaven. A lot of people live in fear. My brother does not have that fear.”Los Angeles Times
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