Bin Laden hunter claims order from God

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American construction worker detained in Pakistan while on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden claimed yesterday that he was obeying an order from God to avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said Pakistani security officials.

Gary Brooks Faulkner said God revealed the order a dreams, prompting him to travel to Pakistan in search of Al Qaeda’s leader, said two security officials.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Catching bin Laden was 50-year-old Faulkner’s passion, his brother Scott Faulkner said. A devout Christian with a prison record, Faulkner has been to Pakistan at least six times, learned some of the local language, and even grew a long beard to blend in, relatives said.

“Our military has not been able to track Osama down yet. It’s been 10 years,’’ Scott Faulkner told reporters in Denver. “It’s easier as a civilian, dressed in the local dress, to infiltrate the inside, the local people, gain their confidence and get information and intel that you couldn’t get as an American soldier, Navy SEAL, whoever you might be.’’

Gary Faulkner, who was being questioned in the northwest city of Peshawar, has not yet been charged with any crime.

Faulkner, of Greeley, Colo., arrived June 3 in the town of Bumburate. He was assigned a police guard, as is common for foreigners visiting remote parts of Pakistan. When he checked out of a hotel without informing the guard, officers began looking for him, senior police official Mumtaz Ahmad Khan said.

Faulkner was found late Sunday in a forest.

“We initially laughed when he told us that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden,’’ Khan said. But when officers found weapons, including a 40-inch sword and a pistol as well as night-vision equipment, “our suspicion grew.’’

He said Faulkner was trying to cross into the nearby Afghan region of Nuristan, one of several rumored hiding places for bin Laden along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border.

Faulkner’s sister, Deanna M. Faulkner of Grand Junction, Colo., said her brother suffers from kidney disease and that he has only 9 percent kidney function.

A Pakistani doctor has examined Faulkner and determined his current condition is not life-threatening, the Pakistani security officials said yesterday.

The American was in and out of Colorado state prisons between 1981 and 1993, serving a total of about seven years in five separate stints for burglary, larceny, and parole violations, state officials said.