The samurai sword-wielding American who made headlines the world over for his dogged, if unusual, one-man quest to capture Osama bin Laden said he served the al Qaeda leader "up on a platter" to the U.S. government and will ask today for a portion of the $27 million reward following bin Laden's death Sunday.
"I had a major hand and play in this wonderful thing, getting him out of the mountains and down to the valleys... Someone had to get him out of there. That's where I came in," Gary Faulkner of Greeley, Colorado, told ABC News. "I scared the squirrel out of his hole, he popped his head up and he got capped.
"I'm proud of our boys, I'm very proud of our government... They were handed this opportunity on a platter from myself," he said.
Faulkner found himself in the international spotlight last June when he was detained by Pakistani authorities while trying to cross into Afghanistan during his eleventh attempt to track down the world's most wanted man. He was discovered equipped with a pistol, a samurai sword, night vision goggles and a map. When he was arrested, Faulkner told police he was intent on avenging the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Pakistani authorities said at the time that they laughed when Faulkner told them about his quest. Pakistani officials and doctors questioned Faulkner to determine his mental state. Faulkner's brother told reporters that Faulkner does not have mental problems. He does have an extensive criminal record of minor offenses stretching back to the 1980s.
Though Faulkner has not been mentioned in the government's detailed account of how the CIA painstakingly tracked down bin Laden, he said today that it was the publicity surrounding the June incident that pushed bin Laden out of hiding in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan and into the million-dollar compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Faulkner dismisses U.S. officials who said bin Laden was believed to have lived in the compound for as many as six years.
"He hadn't been living there for no damn six years," Faulkner said. "I absolutely flushed him out."
Faulkner said that his quest to capture bin Laden was never about the money, but now that it's over, he deserves some compensation. The U.S. State Department offered a $25 million reward for information leading to bin Laden's capture through the Rewards for Justice program and an additional $2 million reward was offered by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transportation Association.
"It wasn't about me. I wanted to bring him to justice. I'm not greedy, but I sold everything I had and I put my life on the line," he said.
The State Department said it would not comment on whether anyone had asked to receive or had been nominated to receive any or all of the reward. Faulkner said he planned to file for the money; the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which administers the Rewards for Justice program, does not accept filings. The U.S. government must nominate an individual to receive all or part of the funds.
Osama bin Laden Hunter Was Planning 12th Attempt
Faulkner said that before he heard news of bin Laden's death, he was in the midst of planning his next mission to the Middle East. While he didn't reveal too many details, he did say this one involved using an ultralight aircraft to come through the "back door" of northern Afghanistan.
"We were gearing up to go back and finish this up," he said.
In previous attempts, Faulkner had tried to use a hang glider to approach bin Laden's suspected cave, but had to call those plans off after disastrous dry runs with the hang glider in Israel.
Now that bin Laden's dead, Faulkner said he's retiring from the bounty hunter business. Instead, he's basking in the glow he feels for what he said was his integral role in bringing the world's most famous terrorist down.
"I'm on cloud nine," he said. "To know that I actually had a hand in this... It was a good marriage of myself, the Pakistani government and our government and now the man has been brought to justice not even a year later.
"This is sweet."