How Twitter Broke Osama Bin Laden Death Before Barack Obama

Posted on May 2 2011 - 12:10pm by Richard Sharp

Twitter is often heralded as the quickest way of breaking news; sometimes these stories are so big that it often changes the user’s life forever. One such Tweet occurred last night when an IT worker from Pakistan tweeted the live events that led up to Osama Bin Laden’s death.  At the time he had no idea the significance of his reports let alone the fifteen minutes of fame it would give him.

Sohaib Athar, who is a software consultant working for Really Virtual, tweeted an interesting series of messages via the Twitter handle @reallyvirtual. He started by saying “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” He went onto joke that he needs a ‘giant fly swatter’ then reported a ‘huge window shaking blast’ in Abbottabad. He later confirmed that one of the helicopters was not Pakistani.

At this stage he didn’t know what had happened but continued to micro blog his observations, he mentioned that one of the three helicopters had been shot down and even posted the location via Twitter. Various updates came including a confirmation that a helicopter had been shot down and one of the ‘riders’ had escaped and was being ‘searched for’. Interestingly none of this has been reported in UK news although the events Tweeted next were.

When the news officially broke @reallyvirtual said “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who live blogged the Osama raid without knowing it.” Followed by a few Tweets explaining that ‘mainstream’ media had been contacting him, much to his annoyance.

Interestingly Sohaib’s Tweet stream revealed he moved to Abbottabad because it was relatively safe, a later Tweet asked “And the big question is – now that OBL does not live in Abbottabad, is it open to terrorist attacks too?” which seems to suggest that Bin Laden’s presence in the area wasn’t that much of a secret, it has since been revealed that Bin Laden’s house was eight times bigger than any other building in the area!

Despite the increased attention Sohaib remained upbeat and managed to keep a sense of humour explaining “Interesting, I didn’t think my name would trend on twtter [sic] before releasing a couple of rock albums and a few award-winning software….”. His final Tweet at the time of writing confirmed that he had just talked with Reuters, so keep an eye on their site for more info.

Source: Twitter


2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. joan May 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I'm confused……..this twitter report was yesterday, yet the news is reporting they got him a week ago…..which is it?

  2. simon May 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    No they killed him last night

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