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Gary Brooks Faulkner: quixotic bounty hunter, secret agent, or hero?

Gary Brooks Faulkner was detained in Pakistan Tuesday, and is undergoing psychological tests today. He said he was there to assassinate Osama bin Laden. Some Pakistanis wondered if he was working for the US government or Blackwater. His brother defended him as a 'man on a mission.'

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According to Scott, Gary, who has lived in Colorado since 1968, believed he knew the whereabouts of bin Laden’s hideout and planned to use the reward money to help people in Central America. Bin Laden is widely believed to be hiding somewhere in the 1,500-mile mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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On Tuesday, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office in Port Collins, Colo., released two mug shots of Gary Faulkner, dated from 1997 and 2006. In the latter he had gray hair, a beard, and glasses. He had served multiple terms in jail, for burglary, larceny, and domestic violence, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records cited by the Denver Post.

Acting solo?

Pakistani analysts caution against reading too much into Faulkner’s target area, Chitral, insisting that the trail for bin Laden is still cold.

“No one has been able to locate and kill bin Laden, despite all the war machinery the US has been using for nine years, daisy cutters, drone attacks, secret missions involving special ops. How could this individual have come any closer?” says Abdul Basit, a security analyst at the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) based in Islamabad.

In Pakistan some speculation has arisen that Faulkner may be tied to the Central Intelligence Agency or to a private security firm such as Blackwater (renamed Xe), which has gained notoriety in Pakistan.

The weaponry that Faulkner carried, though difficult to obtain legally, is readily available on the black market in parts of northwest Pakistan. Peshawar is famous for its Smugglers’ Bazaar, where all manner of small arms are readily available. Weapons bazaars also thrive along the tribal belt.

As for the 40-inch sword, such an item could have been procured “in any antiques shop in Islamabad,” says Mr. Basit.

As of early afternoon, the US embassy had not been in contact with Faulkner, according to spokesman Richard Snelsire.

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