June 26th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Inside the strange world of Gary Faulkner

Editor's note: CNN All-Platform Journalist Jim Spellman filed this post on his recent reporting on alleged Osama bin Laden hunter, Gary Faulkner:

For the last week or so I have been immersed in the world of Gary Faulkner, the man who went to Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

I’ve spent time with most of his family, researched his criminal record and talked to his neighbors - but nothing prepared me to actually meet the larger than life amateur bounty hunter.

Tuesday morning, Gary’s brother, Todd Faulkner, called to tell me that the State Department said Gary would be released in a matter of hours.

The family was ecstatic.

They got to work booking flights for Gary’s long trip home from Islamabad to Denver. When it became clear the only flights available would give him a 6 hour layover in Los Angeles they decided to travel to LA to meet Gary.

I asked to tag along and the family agreed.  Watch the Faulkner interview

Todd Faulkner and I boarded our flight from Denver Wednesday morning and joined Gary’s mother and sister at the sprawling Los Angeles airport. Reporters were already on hand staking out the international arrivals area.

The family was getting nervous about all the press. They didn’t know what condition Gary was in or how he would react to the gaggle of press cameras.

I was getting nervous too. My plan was to try to get an exclusive interview with Gary during the Los Angeles layover. The Faulkner family agreed, but we didn’t know if Gary would be ready to talk.

The plan was to meet Gary after he went through customs and immigration, jump into an awaiting van and head over to a nearby hotel room CNN had booked to conduct the interview. If everything went as planned we would lose the rest of the press and Gary would have a chance to get cleaned up, reunite with his family, then sit down for the interview.

Before we made it to the van, I realized that nothing would go as planned with Gary Faulkner.

Gary emerged from a side door of the terminal flanked by TSA officers. His brother was ready to guide him straight to the van but Gary was ready to talk. He had a big smile on his face and looked to be in great physical condition.

The New York Post had reported that the Pakistani government might have shaved his beard –but he returned home with his beard, and long, flowing gray hair intact. He was wearing sandals, cargo pants and a t-shirt.

He had no interest in being whisked anywhere and immediately began talking to the press convened on the sidewalk. The click-click-click-click of the still cameras made it sound like a red carpet celebrity appearance.

Only 30 seconds in the media spotlight and he was loving it. A reporter shouted a question to Gary: "Were you scared?"

"This is not about me," he responded. "What this is about is the American people and the world. We can't let people like this scare us.

“We don't get scared by people like this. We scare them. And that's what this is about. We're going to take care of business and we will take care of business very soon!"

Bystanders and even a few reporters cheered.

Finally his brother was able to drag him away and we jumped in the van and sped away.

I introduced myself and he immediately agreed to do an interview, and in fact he was ready to do it right there in the van but everyone agreed to get to the hotel and give him a chance to gather his thoughts.

When we got to the hotel room, the Faulkners asked me and the rest of the CNN crew to give them a few minutes of privacy. We stepped out in the hall and at this point, I was wondering if the interview was going to actually happen. Then, about 20 minutes later, the door opened and we went back in. Gary was ready for the interview, but we would be limited to 2 minutes.

We get right to it. Gary plopped down on the couch and I pulled up a chair.

“I got off my butt and I put my life on the line to go out there," he said. "My life is a story that you won't believe – but you know what all that matters is I stood up for what I believe.”

Read more about what Faulkner said

We started to get into some details about his confinement when his brother Todd tried to end the interview. Gary didn’t want to stop talking but we had exceeded the 2 minutes we agreed to, so we stopped the camera.

The Faulkners have been extremely generous in allowing us access to their family and we now got a look at the kind of thing all families go through from time to time, but didn’t have reporters in the room for it.

An argument broke out between Todd - who wanted to protect his brother - and Gary, who wanted to speak for himself. I know they were a bit embarrassed to have us witness this but it really was a loving scene. Brothers who argue but never hold a grudge.

Gary won and we continued the interview.

Gary is a very passionate guy and things get a little heated in the interview. It’s what the family was worried about but it’s what makes Gary the guy he is. He speaks his mind the way he wants and he takes the actions to back up his words. Take him or leave him.

Immediately after the interview I spoke with a CNN executive to go over how we would handle the interview. He asked me the question that was on everyone’s mind: "Is he sane?"

My answer was yes, he is quite sane. Is he a conventional 9-to-5 guy? No, and he never will be.

Was his plan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden armed with a pistol, a sword and night vision goggles likely to succeed? Probably not, but every day people do risky things like climb mountains or sail around the world simply to say they have done it.

Gary’s goal was to capture or kill the most wanted man in the world. If he managed to succeed there would be a $25 million reward waiting for him.

It may not be as crazy as it sounds.

soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Dean

    thought there was a bounty of bin ladens head?? Cant anyone go it??? get off his back!

    June 26, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Havok

      Yes, there is a $25 million bounty on his head. If you actually read the article you were commenting on you would know that. =)

      June 26, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Patrick McGraw

      No kidding. This guy should be given a medal!

      June 26, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      All of you haters, this guy at least did something. Go Gary!

      June 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      Medal of Honor wouldn't be enough. Thank you for doing something although abnormal, for the good of my fellow Americans and the rest of the world. If more people would do this, and succeed, the rest of the world wouldn't look at us as pansies, and they do.

      June 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      actually the world doesn't view us as pansies, they view us as obnoxious, brash, jingoistic twits - basically, a nation of Garry Faulkners wannabes.

      June 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I don't see why they didn't just let him do what he went to do? If he failed it was his choice if he succeeded.....well we may never know but let the man act if he wants.

      June 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      they cant find bin laden because he is in texas swimming in the money with bush

      June 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bomd

      by giving this guy a medal, he would put him in the same category as those who payed the ultimate price, etc.. sure if we give him a medal for being a complete idiot, Peter Griffin should also get one.

      June 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |


      June 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Kick ass Gary!

      June 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vince

      There is no Bin Laden. All this terrorist stuff was made up so we can have an enemy. An excuse to invade other countries and do New World Order Agenda. And yes 911 was all done by our government. Yes sad but true. Watch out for our own country.A secret government has power and runs our country. Seek the truth look at all the facts.

      June 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whcgonzo

      So this is what passes for journalism these days? No wonder people are tuning to Fox News. Crazy beats boring any day.

      June 27, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      dude. is that your parents basement that you're reporting from?

      June 27, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. Courtney

    I thought John Denver was dead.. turns out he was head hunting in Afghanistan!!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      I thought he was Tommy Chong,

      June 26, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. Doug Wilson

    I love this guy!
    Why cant the US Govt get Bin Laden?

    June 26, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Hannah

      Because bin Laden didn't do 9-11.

      June 26, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Prozacboi

      Because we quit trying and started another war in Iraq.

      June 26, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas Howard

      Because he died in 2005 in Lahore of a dialise problem.

      June 26, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Sinn

      Becuse he's the son of the Bush's main man in the Middle East.

      June 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Citizen13682

      Sinn is right about the relationship between the Bushes and the Bin Ladin's, and Hannah is wrong because Bin Ladin himself admitted responsibility for 9-11.

      June 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • veggiedude

      He failed in his mission. In fact, he didn't get 500 miles of the guy. And some think he should have a medal? Geesh!

      June 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      This guy is a nut case.

      June 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OregonDon

    I won't be at all surprised if this ex con calls a press meeting and announces that he has received a message from God as to where Elvis Presley is hiding, and Gary is gonna go find him... Then next month after he fails to find Elvis, he will tell the press he knows where Hitler is hiding, and he's gonna go capture him!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • curious steve

      there will be the Palin / Faulkner ticket for the tea party in 2012!

      June 26, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Fishhunter

      Why rip on him?? and Make fun of him.... For doing what trying to find and capture / kill someone who we have listed as a know terrorist. Or for trying to go for a reward? The rest of the us excluding the armed forces, we sit back and talk about what we would do to the SOB, and how things should be done over there. But do you have the guts to grab a plane get a gun a sword and tear off into the desert, and do it your self. I highly doubt it.

      Give him a break for being more american than the mornons making fun of him and ripping on him for doing it.

      June 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      @Fishhunter – WORD! but i guess it's easier to tear into this guy because they don't have the nads to do what he did. it's not like it's illegal for American's to travel abroad. And it's not like Pakistan is on any Travel Sanctions list. Clearly he wouldn't make it into the military (i'm guess age + physical fitness) so what's wrong with DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

      June 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SPK

    Good topic, poorly written. CNN Presents "Fisher Price: My First Article".

    June 26, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • roomforcubes

      This really was poorly written, agreed

      June 26, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • JAM

      SPK... love the post.

      June 26, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • berant

      This is a terrible article. The reporter painted his own picture, not the picture of Gary. So disappointing.

      June 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • James Phillips

      I thought the article and the video were well done. I though Spellman was believable and thoughtful. I enjoyed it and appreciated your thoughts on the man. Good stuff.

      June 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • reader

      The article is poorly written. Everyone is trying to sound like they are posting on Facebook to their friends now. The dumbing down of the media is awful, and this is not the lowest it will get.

      June 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |


      June 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brook

    Now that's what i call Patriotism! Go Gary Go!!!!!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Peter Cohen

    Gary Faulkner and Dog the Bounty Hunter should team up for a new reality show.

    June 26, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      OMG It could be like a 2hr special "Tracking Bin Laden, The Dogs Way"

      June 26, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • mister big

      Dog the Bounty Hunter does not have the balls to do what this guy did!

      June 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James

    Hey! It's Tommy Chong! He wasn't after Bin Laden, he was looking for the magical poppy fields!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • erika

      hilarious! if we all went to find those poppies the world be much better off and there would be no more wars.

      June 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Noble9

    Gary Faulkner is my hero. Most of us don't ever do anything noteworthy. It's nice to know there are still people out there who aren't just corporate cogs who take the easy way out of everything.

    June 26, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. curious steve

    low IQ + passion = lethal threat to humanity.

    remember GW?

    June 26, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      are you actually saying this guy is a threat to humanity? seriously? a THREAT to HUMANITY? maybe a threat to himself, but "humanity?" Give me a break lol. shouldn't you be getting to your drama class soon?

      June 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bill

    Evan a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then...He may be a little off, but his heart is in the right place. 🙂

    June 26, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    We need more citizens like Gary. Because goodness knows the politicians don't have the nerve to do the right thing. A private company should offer plane flights there and have it loaded with bounty hunters and get the job done. Civilians in a remote village with bin laden? Who cares. Gary for General!!!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |


      I completely agree with your post, this guy deserves a medal. He's a true American Hero. And for all the haters(muslims) that are behind the scenes here posting your hate...I hope and pray that Gary goes back and hunts Bin Laden down and cuts his throat off...and brings his head home in a garbage bag! Muslims are trying to infilitrate this country but we are onto you haters....go back to your country and bomb each other up...

      June 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Captain D


    June 26, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    This reporter is just as "sane" as Gary is! Is he and the guy's brother the only folks who keep trying to convince the rest of us that this guy isn't NUTS!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Maybe you only think he is nuts because GW was trying to brain wash everyone into being sheep and anything other that what fits into that thinking you label nuts.. At least this guy got off his behind and did something he was passionate about. he may be eccentric but he isnt nuts.

      June 26, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Yeah, I agree with Anne. This guy is nuts

      June 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jerry

    Way was the state department looking for him great question unless they are hiding Bin laden them self.
    17 Afghans escape a military base in San Antonio,Texas were security presence is so tight and our government had them here not knowing there might be a link between them and the Taliban great question.No pictures of the 17 Afghans
    and no major man hunt strange.With this president it has been from critical to life threatening between economic disaster,major oil spill,two wars at the same time with more us solider dyeing and now a Hugh terrorist threat with 17 Afghans with a mission against us. No hugh man hunt we might as well send Dog the bounty hunter to get them.Think about This!

    June 26, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • idontthinkso

      They were Afghan military training. Not terrorists. You Scaremonger.

      June 26, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • viking

      you need a lesson in grammar...

      June 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • viking

      really jerry

      June 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7