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Bin Laden hunter: I had help

By Jim Spellman, CNN
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Alleged bin Laden hunter back in US
  • Gary Faulkner spoke to CNN shortly after returning to the United States
  • Faulkner claims others were helping him hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan
  • He said he got close to bin Laden, but he never actually saw him

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Fresh off the plane from Pakistan, Gary Faulkner speaks passionately about his mission to capture Osama bin Laden.

"There's a lot of people who talk," Faulkner told CNN. "I got off my butt, and I put my life on the line."

This wasn't some fly-by-night trip, according to the 50-year-old construction worker. He says it was his seventh trip to Pakistan, searching for the al Qaeda leader whose terrorist network was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

How close did he get to bin Laden?

"If I had a rifle, I could shoot him," Faulkner claimed.

He hedged a bit when asked if he had actually seen bin Laden.

"I haven't seen him personally but [he was] very close," Faulkner said.

He was equally vague when asked to describe how someone would go about finding the man who U.S. authorities have not been able to capture in nine years, despite a $25 million reward:

"You let the spirit [of God] guide you."

Faulkner, who is on dialysis for kidney disease, explained that his mission was not a one-man operation. He said he had a team of people in Pakistan helping him.

Video: Behind the scenes with Faulkner

"There's still very many people that have helped me, and their lives are in danger," Faulkner said. "If anyone knew who actually gave aid, I could put their life in big-time danger."

In addition, he said he was being protected by Pakistani authorities.

"I was never arrested; I was never detained; I was never captured," Faulkner said. "For my protection, they had to bounce me around because somehow my cover got blown.

"So they helped me go from place to place to place only so no one could ... get an actual location on me until they were sure that the airplane in Islamabad could be boarded without someone seeing me.

"Because if someone saw me and you had a LAW's rocket, it's nothing to take a plane out."

There is no way to independently confirm Faulkner's account. He faces no pending criminal charges for his actions.

His brother, physician Scott Faulkner says Gary does not have any mental health issues.

"He doesn't meet any of the DSM -- that's the psychiatric manual -- he doesn't meet any criteria for psychosis. He is not schizophrenic. He doesn't have schizophrenia. He doesn't hear voices. God isn't telling him, 'Oh, Gary, go get him, go get him.' He's a normal person. He handles himself in society," Scott Faulkner said.

The widespread media coverage of Gary Faulkner's arrest triggered reactions of both praise and outrage.

Read about the internet reaction to Faulkner's mission

Faulkner dismissed both reactions, saying he was just standing up for his beliefs.


"You could say I'm a religious freak, you could say I'm a Rambo or a samurai or whatever," he said. "But ... I'm a person who said 'You know what, I'm going to get off my ass and do something.' And I'll be darned if I'm going to sit back and let anybody out there say 'Oh this or that' when they weren't there."

Faulkner blames media for giving the wrong impression for the Pakistani people and said he was treated very well.

"We may have differences in the way that we treat each other here and the way they treat each other there," he said. "I never felt threatened ... They've given me nothing but kindness and consideration."

He wouldn't say whether he plans to resume his hunt for bin Laden. But he said he left his pistol, sword and night vision goggles in Pakistan just in case.