Gary Brooks Faulkner may look like an average, middle-aged American, but he is also a man on a mission—to single-handedly kill Osama bin Laden. He is already being dubbed the "American ninja," but his pursuit of bin Laden into the Af-Pak border is not without merit.
Faulkner was picked up by Pakistani police on Sunday in the Chitral District of Pakistan. He originally claimed to be a kidney patient, and he even had medicine and blood pressure medication with him to prove it. However, according to a senior Pakistani police investigator, Mumtaz Ahmed, Faulkner eventually told police that he was trying to cross into Afghanistan in order to kill bin Laden.
Rumors that bin Laden has been hiding out in the northern Af-Pak border region are not new. The mountainous Chitral (Pakistan) borders Nuristan (Afghanistan)—a known Taliban stronghold. More than that, authorities have long suspected that bin Laden and his associates remain hidden in Nuristan—suspicions that have been confirmed by captured al Qaida leaders. In response to these concerns, the United States has recently begun to engage in more bombings of the area.
Despite these attempts by U.S. and coalition forces to crack down in the lawless region along the border from the sky, there remains little state intervention from either the Pakistani or American authorities on the ground in Nuristan because its terrain is remote, unwelcoming to foreigners, and impossible to defend. It was for this very reason that U.S. troops withdrew from the region. But, the fact that even U.S. forces no longer choose to enter Nuristan, was not enough to deter Faulkner.
The idea that Faulkner, armed merely with a sword, dagger, pistol, night-vision goggles and camera, and Christian literature could have successfully caught and killed Osama seems ludicrous. However, it does raise questions about the U.S. strategy to capture bin Laden. Is the U.S. truly doing all it can to eliminate the terrorist mastermind? And is Faulkner merely a crazy zealot seeking bin Laden, or was he actually onto something in Chitral?