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Detained American was on hunt for bin Laden, Pakistan says

Police say they have detained a California man armed with a pistol in northern Pakistan who claims to have been on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

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By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Pakistani authorities said Tuesday that they have detained an American hunter in the lawless wilds along the Afghan border. His prey: Osama bin Laden.

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Police said they found Gary Faulkner, 51, of California in a remote forest Monday, after he went missing from his tourist hotel in a scenic valley just across the border from Afghanistan's eastern Nurestan province. He was equipped with a 40-inch sword, a Chinese-made pistol, a dagger and night-vision goggles, officials said, and he said he was on a mission to kill.

"He told police that he came here for killing Osama and to encourage U.S.-led NATO forces in their fight against al-Qaeda fighters," said Malik Naveed, police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Faulkner was captured.

A top police official in the region where Faulkner was found told the Associated Press that the American -- identified as a construction worker -- wanted to avenge those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The official said Faulkner also toted a book of Christian verses and a small amount of hashish, according to the Associated Press.

An investigator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Faulkner also aspired to kill two bin Laden aides and that he expected to find his victims in Nurestan. The province, abandoned by U.S. ground forces last year, is among several spots where bin Laden is rumored to be hiding.

The United States has offered a $25 million bounty for information leading to bin Laden's capture.

According to a report in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Faulkner arrived in Pakistan on a tourist visa June 2.

After registering with the local administration in Chitral, a town in the western mountains, he was assigned a police escort for security, as is customary for foreign tourists.

But Faulkner slipped away from his monitor on Sunday, authorities said. A search team that was deployed to the mountains caught him after 14 hours, Naveed said.

Several Pakistani security agencies were questioning Faulkner late Tuesday in Peshawar, the main city in Pakistan's northwest.

Richard Snelsire, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, confirmed that an American had been arrested and said that officials were "seeking consular access" to that person.

Khan reported from Peshawar.

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