By RIAZ KHAN and MUNIR AHMED
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) – An American armed with a pistol and a 40-inch sword was detained in northern Pakistan and told investigators he was on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden, a police officer said Tuesday.
The man was identified as 52-year-old Californian construction worker Gary Brooks Faulkner, said officer Mumtaz Ahmad Khan.
He was picked up in a forest in the Chitral region late on Sunday, he 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 pistol, the sword and night-vision equipment, “our suspicion grew.”
He was questioned Tuesday by intelligence officials in Peshawar, the main northwestern city.
Faulkner told police he visited Pakistan seven times, and this was his third trip to Chitral.
Police alleged the American intended to travel to the eastern Afghan region of Nuristan, just across the border from Chitral.
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. Bin Laden is accused of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, as well other terrorist acts.
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.
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.