The 52-year-old California construction worker arrived in the picturesque mountain border province of Chitral, which borders the Taliban stronghold of Nuristan in Afghanistan, on June 3, accompanied by a security guard that is mandatory for foreigners entering the area, Pakistani police said.
After hotel security guards noticed he had vanished on Sunday night, a search party was dispatched. After a 10-hour manhunt they found Faulker some 14 kilometers (9 miles) from the Afghan border, according to police official Mumtaz Ahmad Khan.
Faulkner was also carrying night vision goggles and a dagger to go along with his sword. He has since been shifted to police custody in Peshawar, capital of the Khyber Pakthunkwa province.
US bloggers have latched on to his story, calling Faulkner an "American ninja" and a "Christian warrior."
Richard Snelsire, a US embassy spokesman, says that the US consulate in Peshawar is aware that a US citizen has been detained and is seeking consular access.
While Faulkner's one-man mission to hunt down bin Laden may be improbable, Chitral has long been suspected as a possible hideout for bin Laden.
In 2002, the Monitor asked then President Pervez Musharraf about intelligence reports that Al Qaeda's leader was ensconced in Chitral. In 2009, the New York Daily News reported that US drones were still actively buzzing that part of Pakistan, hunting for bin Laden.
According to Rifaat Hussain, a security analyst at the Quaid-i-Azam university in Islamabad, Nuristan remains a Taliban stronghold and some intelligence reports suggest Maulana Fazlullah, the vanquished leader of the Swat Taliban, may have fled there. However, he adds, “we haven’t seen any fresh intelligence suggesting where [Bin Laden]’s possible hideouts are.”
Police said it was Faulkner’s third visit to the area in three years. If the allegations are proven true, it would be the first instance of a bounty-hunter being detained in pursuit of the $50 miliion reward offered by US authorities.
It could also serve as a warning to copy-cats, says Dr. Hussain. “Only the most dare-devil [individuals] would attempt such a mission given the risks involved, without a network of contacts,” he says.
“As a foreigner, without knowing the language and how to wear the local dress, he would easily be identified as intruder.”