Published May 02, 2011
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani provided live Twitter updates on the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, without realizing it.
IT consultant Sohaib Athar took to Twitter in the early hours of Monday local time when he heard helicopters in the night sky above his home close to the compound where bin Laden was cornered and killed by U.S. forces.
Posting as @ReallyVirtual, Athar wrote, "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."
Minutes later he reported, "A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty."
Athar went on to describe gunfire, explosions and the sound of a helicopter crashing as the raid continued. He estimated he was around two miles away from the firefight.
It was only hours after the raid took place that the he eventually connected the explosions to an announcement by President Barack Obama that a U.S. military team killed bin Laden in strike at a mansion in Abbottabad.
"There goes the neighborhood," Athar tweeted. "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who live-blogged the Osama raid without knowing it."
After his unknowing reportage, Athar was being followed by more than 17,000 Twitter users as he tried to play down his role, "I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That's all."
In the US, the news of bin Laden's death was broken reportedly not by the established news media but by the chief of staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Keith Urbahn.
Shortly before President Obama announced the news to the world late Sunday, Urbahn tweeted, "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn." News organizations began reporting the rumor shortly afterwards. Urbahn quickly picked up more than 3,000 new followers.
San Francisco-based Twitter said more than 4,000 tweets per second were being sent at the beginning and end of the President's speech.