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Bin Laden hunter on his way back to U.S.

- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DENVER (AP) -- An American on a solo mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden is headed back to the United States, 10 days after authorities found him in the woods of northern Pakistan with a pistol, a sword and night-vision equipment.

Gary Faulkner, who had been detained since June 13, left Pakistan early Wednesday and will arrive in Denver later in the day, his brother Dr. Scott Faulkner said.

Dr. Faulkner said he spoke briefly on Tuesday with his brother, who reported being treated well in Pakistan. By the excitement in his brother's voice, Dr. Faulkner said he thinks his brother came close to finding bin Laden.

The 50-year-old Mr. Faulkner, of Greeley, Colo., told officials he was out to kill the al Qaeda leader. Mr. Faulkner then was moved to Islamabad, and his brother told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he was being released by the Pakistani government without charges.

"He said he couldn't wait to return to the good ol' U.S. of A.," Dr. Faulkner said.

Mr. Faulkner is an out-of-work construction worker who sold his tools to finance six trips on what relatives have called a Rambo-type mission to kill or capture bin Laden. He grew his hair and beard long to fit in better.

Dr. Faulkner told reporters last week that his brother wasn't crazy, just determined to find the man America's military has failed to capture nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

"Is it out the norm? Yes, it is. But is it crazy? No," Dr. Faulkner said. "If he wore a uniform and called himself special ops, would he be crazy?"

Another relative told the AP on Tuesday he wasn't sure when Mr. Faulkner would return to Denver but that it would be in coming days. The relative said Mr. Faulkner, who has kidney problems and needs dialysis, was treated well by Pakistani authorities and is in good spirits.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of privacy concerns, said the agency hasn't been told of Mr. Faulkner's release and the family would have the best information, but Mr. Faulker's release was expected soon.

Mr. Faulkner, two department officials said, refused to sign a waiver allowing the government to discuss his case publicly.

Mr. Faulkner left Colorado on May 30. Dr. Faulkner, an internist in the northeastern Colorado town of Fort Morgan, dropped his brother off at the airport and wasn't sure he would see him again. But he and other relatives have insisted that Mr. Faulker left the United States unarmed, had a valid visa for Pakistan and was guilty of no crime while there. Indeed, relatives have said they hope the trip encourages more people to look for bin Laden.

"Now there's going to be, hopefully, a renewed effort to get this guy -- he's still wanted, and he's still out there," Dr. Faulkner said last week.

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

 

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