“The Guy who Liveblogged the Osama Raid Without Knowing It”

By now, everyone has heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s apparent death in Pakistan at the hands of US special forces. Of course, besides the official story that the US stormed in, had a fire fight, Al-Qaeda’s number one man was killed and no Americans or civilians were hurt, there was a man in Abbottabad tweeting about the noises he heard late last night: and his take paints a different story.

Here’s how Sohaib Athar, who lives in Abbottabad, started his tweets early on May 2:

Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).

Later he talked about a crash and the involvement of security forces in the area. Other people on twitter joined in on the conversation, and there were soon other observations being shared by people who claimed to be in the area and who also saw and heard things: two helicopters, where one was Pakistani. Here are some more of Athar’s tweets after the helicopter he heard disturbed the peaceful Abbottabad night.

A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S

@smedica people are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful.

Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding

The world has (obviously) picked up on Athar’s tweets (under the handle @ReallyVirtual). He’s had so many people start to follow him that he had to filter out his email notifications from twitter. He’s also getting numerous requests for interviews. Of course all this fame is accidental. Here is how the IT consultant has now described himself on twitter:

Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.

Other twitterers commented on his above statement, saying things such as “Expect a profile in @wired or @fastcompany” and “Welcome to notoriety.”

Here’s one of his last tweets before trying to catch some sleep; it was a clarification to a question by one of his tweeples:

@jovensclaudio The gunfight lasted perhaps 4-5 minutes, I heard. That was around 10 hours ago. There are no other gunfights that I know of.

More than one helicopter, a crash that was also reported by Pakistani media in the early morning, the Pakistani army cordoning off the area: there are a lot of things that don’t mesh with the official story by the US, or for that matter, the purposefully vague statements by the Pakistani government in which they say it was a US operation, and while the two countries share intelligence, the foreign ministry’s official statement does not say that the Pakistan army actively assisted in this mission, though they imply they support the results of it 100%.


For all of @ReallyVirtual‘s tweets, visit twitter.com.






Text reprinted with the permission of Newsline Publications (Pvt.) Ltd.