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. Duncan Idaho

    Did he have a refrigerated bag for Bin Laden head, that is what I want to know.

    June 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      they've said numerous times his mission wasn't to kill him, but to locate him. the pistol and sword were probably for self defense.

      June 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. humanshield

    There should be no hate in these comments.
    This guy is AMERICA. And has more balls than anyone in the entire forces.

    June 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Izzy

    Go Gary!

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

    This guy is quite possibly the coolest dude, ever. Whether you agree with his philosophy or no,t he is inspiring. Honestly I did not read the article but I have been reading up on this guy and I just have to say he rocks. A true hero.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikey

    this article is really bad, inside the strange world of gary lmao what a joke. this dude is like the reporter from the wire ....all hype ....how can you screw an article with so much potential up????

    June 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. B

    An illiterate ex-con gets his wish: a planned arrest in pakistan, lots of media attention, and surely a book deal, speaking tour, movie deal, etc. America, you are more pathetic troll-bait than ever.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |

    Yea, when looking at Gary I guess, Ernest Shackleton had it easy........

    June 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon

    Once he started blabbing about "God Almighty" I stopped the interview. If God exists why did 9/11 happen in the first place. Don't respond to this post because I won't be back to see your reply.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      i bet you checked anyway :p

      June 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank Rizzo

    I have no respect for this idiot, what he and others had failed to understand is that he has placed the lives of both CIA, PAK and Indian SS agents and or officers in more dangerous position in their attempt to kill or capture OBL by allowing the Enemy to get to know this Idiot and use him to throw off good intel.

    The idiot is only doing this to make a Name and maybe a book or Money deal to help ay for his medical, and personal bills. He deserves no Hero Welcome or Special Attention by the Media or the American Public, he should be thrown in Jail for obstructing a US Federal Investigation and violating international laws and if need be place in Mental Health Hospital.

    I hope this is the last time we hear about this moron in the Media in his Grand Standing poor attempt to be a "Real American Hero" and for those family, friends and public supporters they share the irresponsibility displayed by this WACKO.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      i'm honestly curious to hear, if you come back. What "investigation" did he interfere with? and what international laws did he break? i agree that he could have been used as a pawn, or even what someone else suggested, a weapon if captured, but that didn't happen. Are you suggesting he actually did enough to interfere with the governments search? why would they put a bounty on a head that was open to anyone with info if they were to jail someone who actually goes looking?

      June 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Person

    I say good for him for doing something about it. After all, he's only trying to help. Keep it up Gary!

    June 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Person

    @ Frank Rizzo

    do you actually believe the crap that is coming out of your mouth?

    June 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. andrew

    Give him a medal. Atlleast he did something. i say we nuke the whole middle east and tell some one else to find the body.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sam M

    This guy needs to be locked up just as quickly as we would lock up any radical islamist that entered our country and was scouring our nation carrying only a pistol, night vision goggles a sword and a copy of the qu'ran. This lunatic is the exact same thing we're fighting against in the middle east, He is the american/christian face of Ji'had and only furthers the lack of confidence that our citizens feel toward our armed forces and intelligence groups.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      finally, an interesting valid opposing point!

      June 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew urzua

      Im a wounded vet and still a soldier and from a quote from gary,and im paraphrasing theres those that talk and theres those that take action,im one that takes action and just like you gary, Im proud that this american did what no other force has, one man teams are the best because they have the best element of suprise and thats what it takes to capture osama, one man teams have created so much terror and sucess than any other force read some old history books and you will see I hate getting into politics. I deal with history and facts.

      June 27, 2010 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    most super heroes would be considered wackos if you actually met them in the street.

    June 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tedlinguini

    Give'em HELL Gary!

    June 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
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