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Man Unknowingly Live Tweets Osama bin Laden Raid

Man Unknowingly Live Tweets Osama bin Laden Raid

Source: Twitter

Associated Press

May 02, 2011

CAIRO — A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter.

With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”

Soon the sole helicopter multiplied into several and gunfire and explosions rocked the air above the town, and Athar’s tweets quickly garnered 14,000 followers as he unwittingly described the U.S. operation to kill one of the world’s most wanted militants.

His first tweet was innocuous: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

The noise alarmed Athar, who had moved to the upscale area of Abbottabad to get away from city life after his wife and child were badly injured in a car accident in the sprawling city of Lahore, according to his blog in July.

Nestled in the mountains around 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of the capital, Abbottabad is a quiet, leafy town featuring a military academy, the barracks for three army regiments and even its own golf course.

As the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden unfolded, Athar “liveblogged” what he was hearing in real time, describing windows rattling as bombs exploded.

He questioned whose helicopters might be flying overhead. “The few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani,” he tweeted.

Athar then said one of the aircraft appeared to have been shot down. Two more helicopters rushed in, he reported.

Throughout the battle, he related the rumors swirling through town: it was a training accident. Somebody was killed. The aircraft might be a drone. The army was conducting door-to-door searches in the surrounding area. The sound of an airplane could be heard overhead.

Athar did not respond to media requests for comment – he explained in another tweet that a filter he set up to stop his e-mail box from flooding could be culling out requests for interviews.

Soon, however, the rumbling of international events far beyond the confines of this quiet upscale suburb began to dawn on Athar, and he realized what he might be witnessing.

“I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected,” he tweeted.

Eight hours and about 35 tweets later, the confirmation came: “Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” Athar reported. “There goes the neighborhood.”

Visit Sohaib Athar’s Twitter Page >>

  • Vpsomourningband_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I just wasted a bit of time....

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Bump bikecop45

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Someone is very lucky, they didn't get triangulated or worse while making po1.

  • Pictures_of_jonathan_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Is this story really woth the paper and the time to make it?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Slow News day?

  • Meangreen01_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Thought this might be a real news article... guess I'll have to go back to articles about Justin Beiber's hair and Lindsy Lohan's kleptomania. Thank goodness for "serious" reporters.

  • Heores_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Shout out to for tweeting this story!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    I agree wiseass0282 who gives a rats ass that this guy tweets the raid. Not news in my book...nor is it worthy of being on this site.

  • Heores_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I find it amazing how social media has impacted our consumption of global news.

  • John_groh_max50


    over 3 years ago


    So what, is this really worthy of a News Artical.

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