ISLAMABAD — An American man armed with a pistol and a 40-inch sword was detained in northern Pakistan as he tried to cross the border into Afghanistan on a mission to avenge the 9-11 attacks and kill Osama bin Laden, police said Tuesday.
Police said Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 51-year-old construction worker, was also carrying Christian literature and a small amount of hashish.
Faulkner’s sister, interviewed in Colorado, said her brother has polycystic kidney disease that has left him with only 9 percent kidney function and needs dialysis.
But Deanna M. Faulkner, of Grand Junction, Colo., told the Associated Press that she didn’t think her brother’s illness was his motivation in going to Pakistan.
"I don’t believe this was, ‘I’m dying and I’m going to do a hurrah thing.”’ She said her brother is "very religious” but declined to elaborate.
Late Tuesday, the top police officer in the Chitral region declined to repeat his earlier statement that the American had said he was on a mission to kill bin Laden. Mumtaz Ahmad Khan did not retract his remarks, but said that they were not the American’s "pure words.” He put down the phone when asked to elaborate.
Khan did repeat earlier allegations that Faulkner was armed with a pistol, the sword and a dagger when he was arrested late Sunday. He declined to give more details, saying Faulkner was now in the hands of the country’s all-powerful intelligence agencies.
The whereabouts of bin Laden is a very sensitive issue for Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment. Their officials generally deny the possibility that bin Laden is hiding somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border as Western intelligence agencies believe.
Bin Laden has evaded a massive manhunt since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which he is accused of masterminding along with other attacks. Washington has offered a bounty of $25 million for information leading to his capture.
Faulkner was picked up in a forest in the Chitral region late on Sunday, 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 weapons and night-vision equipment, "our suspicion grew.” He said the American was trying to cross into the nearby Afghan region of Nuristan.
Chitral and Nuristan are among several rumored hiding places for bin Laden along the mountainous 2,400 kilometer long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Faulkner was being questioned Tuesday by intelligence officials in Peshawar, the main northwestern city. He has not been charged.
Khan said the man told investigators that he was angry after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
"I think Osama is responsible for bloodshed in the world, and I want to kill him,” he quoted him as saying.
Khan said Faulkner was also carrying a book containing Christian verses and teachings.
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.
He said that police had confiscated a small amount of hashish, enough for a single joint, from Faulkner.
Faulkner allegedly told police he visited Pakistan seven times, and this was his third trip to Chitral, a mountainous region that attracts adventurous Western tourists and hikers. Unlike much of northwestern Pakistan, it is considered relatively safe for foreigners.
Faulkner arrived in the Chitrali town of Bumburate on June 3 and stayed in a hotel there.
He was assigned a police guard, as is quite common for foreigners visiting remote parts of Pakistan. When he checked out without informing police, officers began hunting for him, said Khan.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said the mission had received notification from Pakistani officials that an American citizen had been arrested. He said embassy officials were trying to meet the man and confirm his identity.
Deanna Faulkner said her brother usually gets dialysis every three days but can go up to two weeks without it.
"He was planning on getting back here before then,” she said. She didn’t know when he left the country.
"We contacted the State Department to let them know of his medical condition and that his family is here and we love him,” Deanna Faulkner said.
She said family members haven’t heard from him since he left the country.
"He’s in a country where he can’t get word out,” she said.
She said Scott Faulkner was a construction worker who has lived in both Colorado and California, but she declined to say where he was living when he left for Pakistan. She said he will be 52 at the end of the summer.
"If this is your family member, there you go. What do you do?”
She said her brother isn’t in danger of dying anytime soon unless he doesn’t get dialysis in a week or two.
"People can live 20 years on dialysis,” she said.
"I’m worried about him. 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.”
Asked about Pakistani authorities saying Faulkner had made previous trips there, Deanna Faulkner said, "He has been all over the world many times.”
"Obviously, we love and care for our brother, our family member. Without the treatment, healthwise, he’s in serious trouble.”
Associated Press reporter Dan Elliott in Denver, Colorado, contributed to this report.