John Hudson at The Atlantic:
Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 52-year-old construction worker from California, was detained by Pakistani police after claiming he was on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden. While details are still being collected, this would be the first example of a U.S. citizen being arrested in Pakistan for attempting to fight terrorists. Here’s what’s being reported:
- Where He Was Going “Police alleged the American intended to travel to the eastern Afghan region of Nuristan, just across the border from Chitral,” writes The Associated Press. “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.” As a side note, the AFP writes “Chitral attracts Western tourists for its hiking and stunning natural beauty and is considered one of the safer areas of northwestern Pakistan.”
- What He Was Carrying “He had a pistol, dagger and a sword and was carrying night-vision equipment as well as Christian literature,” The BBC writes.
- What He Wanted to Do to bin Laden “During initial interrogation, the American national said that he was going to Nooristan on a ‘mission to decapitate Osama bin Laden’ and his four accomplices who posed a constant threat to America,” writes Zahiruddin at Dawn.com. The Associated Press agrees. Oddly enough, CNN quotes a Pakistani police chief saying Faulkner claimed “he had no intention of killing bin Laden.” Also, according to Reuters, Faulkner told authorities he “suffered personal losses in the September 11, 2001 attacks.”
- What’s the Going Price for bin Laden, Anyway? “The al-Qaeda leader is the world’s most-wanted man, with the US offering a reward of up to $25m (£17m) for information leading to his capture,” notes the BBC.
Justin Elliott at Talking Points Memo:
The Denver Post reports on Gary Brooks Faulkner:
He has been arrested several times in Colorado over the years, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation Records. He served prison sentences in Canon City, at least twice, in 1981 and 1986, on burglary and larceny convictions, according to CBI records.In 1996, Faulkner was sentenced to one year in the Denver County Jail on a domestic violence assault conviction, according to Denver court records.
More recently, Faulkner was arrested in Greeley in 2006 on a misdemeanor “failure to appear” warrant from another jurisdiction, according to records.
Sister of U.S. Man Arrested in Pakistan Trying to Kill Bin Laden Say His Kidneys are Failing, “Wanted to do one Last Thing For His Country Before he Died”
Can’t think of a better way to go out…
Dexter Filkins at New York Times:
Before you chuckle, let me just say: Whatever else we might conclude about Gary Faulkner, our arrested American bounty hunter, we should give him this: He was looking in the right place.
Or at least the place where many intelligence analysts think he is: the mountainous high-altitude district of Chitral. For me, the mere mention of the place evokes the image of the Saudi terrorist.
Last December, early on a Sunday morning, I sat at a long table in the basement of the Pentagon talking with an American military officer about the situation in Afghanistan. As the meeting ended, another man approached, wearing plain clothes and a plainer face.
“Chitral,” he said, half-smiling. “If you’re looking for Osama, you might try Chitral.”
He muttered something else, then walked away. The man didn’t identify himself, but he didn’t have to. He was almost certainly an intelligence analyst. If I had to guess, I’d say, given our location, that he worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Back to Mr. Faulkner. Oddly enough, according to initial reports, it seems that he and his quarry have a striking number of details in common.
1. Both are very religious. (When he was caught, Mr. Faulkner was carrying a book of Christian phrases.)
2. Both were in the construction business.
3. Both have bad kidneys.
4. Both have beards. (Assuming Mr. bin Laden hasn’t shaved his off.)
Meanwhile, just Monday, Mr. bin Laden put out yet another audio speech, this one on his imprisoned confederate, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It’s his 27th since 2001.
Paul Wachter at Politics Daily:
Faulkner claims he was on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden. But while that my cause a few chuckles (including from the Pakistanis who detained him), the real joke is not on a would-be Rambo like Faulkner but on the U.S. government, which has yet to capture or kill bin Laden as we approach the nine-year anniversary of 9/11.
After those attacks, the Bush administration allowed bin Laden to sneak out from Afghanistan into Pakistan by holding back American troops from the assault on Tora Bora. Last year a Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation found that “a larger troop commitment to Afghanistan might have resulted in the demise not only of Mr. bin Laden and his deputy but also of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban,” reported The New York Times. “Like several previous accounts, the committee’s report blames Gen. Tommy R. Franks, then the top American commander, and Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, for not putting a large number of American troops there lest they fuel resentment among Afghans.”
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama attacked President Bush’s record regarding this lapse, but since assuming the presidency Obama, too, has failed to deliver bin Laden. As quixotic as Faulkner’s attempt was, at least he, unlike the U.S. government, gave the appearance of trying.
Back in 2001 and 2002, most of us were content to work out our rage against Osama bin Laden by peeing on novelty urinal cakes decorated with his face, before eventually forgetting about him altogether when George Bush stopped talking about him on teevee. But one man dedicated himself to hunting down America’s greatest enemy, armed only with his wits, his highly trained reflexes, and a lot of weapons. After years of study and ritual purification, he finally arrived in Pakistan this week, ready to walk barefoot across the border and meet bin Laden in a final confrontation of good vs. evil, but then he got arrested by Pakistani police, because apparently in Pakistan it is illegal to try to kill Osama bin Laden.
Faulkner’s ninja mission was sadly cut short when he got caught sneaking away from the police escort every American gets when they get all twitchy near the Afghan border. The FBI was spared the embarrassment of having to pay the $25 million reward for bin Laden’s capture, because come on, who just has that kind of money lying around? Certainly not the government.
UPDATE: Max Read at Gawker