DENVER – An American on a solo mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden is headed back to the United States, ten days after authorities found him in the woods of northern Pakistan with a pistol, a sword and night-vision equipment.
Gary Faulkner, who has been detained since June 13, left Pakistan early Wednesday and will arrive in Denver later in the day, his brother Scott Faulkner said.
Scott Faulkner said he spoke to his brother briefly Tuesday, and he reported being treated well Pakistan. By the excitement in his brother's voice, Scott Faulkner said he thinks his brother came close to finding bin Laden.
The 50-year-old Gary Faulkner, of Greeley, told officials he was out to kill the al-Qaida leader. Faulkner was then 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," Scott Faulkner said.
Gary 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.
Scott 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," Scott Faulkner said. "If he wore a uniform and called himself special ops, would he be crazy?"
Another relative told AP on Tuesday he wasn't sure when Faulkner would return to Denver but that it would be in coming days. The relative said Faulkner, who has kidney problems and needs dialysis, has been treated well by Pakistani authorities and is in good spirits.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to privacy concerns, said the agency hasn't been told of Faulkner's release and that the family would have the best information, but that Faulker's release was expected soon.
Faulkner, two department officials said, refused to sign a waiver allowing the government to discuss his case publicly.
Faulkner left Colorado in May 30. Scott Faulkner, a physician in the northeastern Colorado town of Fort Morgan, dropped his brother off at the airport and wasn't sure he'd see him again. But he and other relatives have insisted that Gary Faulker left the U.S. 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," Scott Faulkner said last week.