This piece, entitled, “The American Bin Laden Hunter” was first published on Foreign Policy‘s AfPak Channel:
Step aside, Jason Statham. There’s a new action hero in town.
Pakistani authorities detained Gary Faulkner, a 52-year old American man who has reportedly been searching for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden since September 11, 2001. Faulkner, who was found about nine miles short of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border Sunday, was allegedly trying to enter Nuristan, a province in Afghanistan.
Muhammad Jaffar Khan, the police chief of Chitral, in northwest Pakistan, told reporters, “[Faulkner] told the investigating officer he was going to Afghanistan to get Osama. At first we thought he was mentally deranged.” However, after seeing that the American was armed with a pistol, dagger, sword, Christian literature, and night-vision goggles, police realized “he was serious.”
So serious, in fact, that he initially resisted arrest, threatened to fire on police, and later told interrogators he was going to Nuristan “to decapitate Osama bin Laden.” According to Khan, when asked whether he felt he had a chance in capturing bin Laden, Faulkner answered, “God is with me, and I am confident I will be successful in killing him.”
Faulkner, a construction worker from California, previously visited Pakistan seven times, and this was his third trip to Chitral. According to police officials, he arrived in Chitral on June 2 “as a tourist,” checked into a hotel, and was given a security escort before disappearing.
The story of Gary Faulkner is both bizarre and fascinating. First, what if he had avoided police capture and crossed into Afghanistan? What would be the implications if Faulkner had actually caught and killed the al-Qaeda leader? Perhaps Pakistani authorities will be so impressed with Faulkner’s dedication that they will unleash him into the tribal wild, keeping their fingers crossed for an end to the ever-annoying “Where in the World is Osama bin Laden” question. For now though, the American has been detained for questioning in Peshawar, leaving us to only ponder potential future scenarios:
Potential scenario #1: Faulkner signs a contract with Fox for a new reality competition show tentatively titled, “Who Wants to be a (25) Millionaire?” Faulkner, the host of the reality series, leads young wannabe Faulkner-ites into Pakistan/Afghanistan, where they compete to capture bin Laden, armed only with spoons and baby powder. The winner receives $25 million and title of Top Bin Laden Hunter.
Potential scenario #2: Sylvester Stallone, famous monotone actor and director, replaces former it-boy Jason Statham with Gary Faulkner as a cast member on his upcoming film, The Expendables, about a team of mercenaries on a mission to South America to overthrow a dictator. When asked by reporters why he chose to switch Statham for Faulkner, Stallone answers (in monotone), “Faulkner. He’s so hot right now.”
Potential scenario #3: CNBC releases this headline on its news ticker, “Gary Faulkner merchandise sales single handedly push consumer confidence up, markets rally as a result.” This merchandise includes (but is not limited to) Gary Faulkner night vision goggles, Gary Faulkner autographed swords and daggers, and t-shirts that say, “I went to Pakistan to hunt Bin Laden and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
Potential scenario #4: The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Peace Prize to Gary Faulkner “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen the one-man hunt for bin Laden.” The pundit-sphere debates over how yet another American wins the award without actually achieving anything.
Potential scenario #5: Chuck Norris jokes that became Jack Bauer jokes are now replaced with Gary Faulkner jokes. For example: Gary Faulkner destroyed the periodic table, because Gary Faulkner only recognizes the element of surprise.
Note: Potential scenario No. 5 is fast becoming a reality.