Pakistan Arrests U.S. Man Hunting Osama bin Laden

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Police in northwestern Pakistan tell CBS News an American citizen has been arrested for allegedly attempting to cross the border into Afghanistan to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.

A police source tells CBS News' Sami Yousafzai that the man, identified by the Associated Press as Gary Faulkner from California, was arrested between the scenic Pakistani town of Chitral and the Taliban stronghold of Nuristan on the Afghan side of the border.

The American national had been staying at a hotel in Chitral, a popular tourist destination where he apparently had traveled before. Local police assigned an officer to monitor the hotel, due to the presence of the American in a region where anti-U.S. Islamic militants are abundant. Police say he was traveling on a tourist visa.

Police say the man left his hotel quietly without notifying them of his intentions.

He was located after a wide search, allegedly carrying a handgun, a sword, a dagger and night vision equipment. The police source tells Yousafzai the man said he wanted to go to Nuristan to kill the al Qaeda leader.

Osama bin Laden's whereabouts have remained a mystery since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but he is widely believed by intelligence officials to be hiding out somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Police say the American is being held in Chitral, but may be transferred as soon as Tuesday to the large northwestern city of Peshawar for a more detailed investigation.

USA Today identifies the suspect as Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 52-year-old construction worker from California.

The case is the first known example of a U.S. citizen being arrested in Pakistan with alleged aspirations of fighting against the region's Islamic militants.

Five young American men from the Washington D.C. area were arrested in the eastern Pakistani city of Sargodha late last year, allegedly trying to connect with Taliban militants and join the fight against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The State Department said in December that it expected the men to be deported back to the U.S., but the Pakistani investigation into whether they committed any chargeable crimes in the country is ongoing.

CBS News' Maria Usman reports the young men are due back in court for another hearing next week, with a verdict expected as soon as the first week of July.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.