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Solo bin Laden hunter back on U.S. soil

June 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An American on a solo mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden landed at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday evening.Gary Faulkner, 50, arrived in good spirits. He was friendly, funny and generally happy to be back in the U.S.

"I can tell you all some very cool things, but it's going to cost you all some money," Faulkner told members of the media with a laugh.

Faulkner has been looking for bin Laden since early June.

The former construction worker sold his tools to finance six trips on what relatives have called a Rambo-type mission to kill or capture bin Laden. He grew out his hair and beard to fit in better.

But his effort was interrupted when he was detained by Pakistani authorities on June 13.

That's when Faulkner was found in the woods of northern Pakistan allegedly holding a pistol, a sword and night-vision equipment.

Wearing a gray shirt, sandals and beige chinos, and with his long gray hair in a pony tail, Faulkner said he was well cared for during his confinement and that Pakistani medical workers administered dialysis to treat his kidney disease.

Faulkner had been detained, then released without any charges against him, even though he told Pakistani officials about his plan to kill the al-Qaida leader.

Faulkner's family said they hope his trip encourages other people to look for bin Laden.

"It's just not about me," Faulkner told reporters. "We've got some brothers and sisters that are Americans that need some help, too. We have a joint thing going on and we have to protect our own."

"I've got a funny feeling that someone's going down very shortly, and it's not us," he said.

Faulkner, of Greeley, Colo., said organizing his trip "took a lot of money and a lot of time."

"It's incredible to have him home," said Faulkner's sister, Deanna Martin.

He joked with reporters saying he would need another kidney before returning to Pakistan to finish the job.

"In this particular case, as in all cases where we have an American citizen in custody of another country, we are in touch with that individual, we are in touch with his family," said State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley. "We stayed in close contact with him and with his family throughout this, and we are gratified it was resolved rapidly."

The State Department has a $50 million bounty for bin Laden, but Faulkner said he's not in it for the money.

Asked if he planned to return to the region, Faulkner said, "Absolutely," adding cryptically, "You'll find out at the end of August."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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