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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sohaib Athar, IT Consultant, Tweets Osama Bin Laden's Assassination as It Happens

Posted By on Sun, May 1, 2011 at 11:38 PM


Meet Sohaib Athar. Until very recently, he had quietly used Twitter to tell about his life as an IT consultant living in Pakistan under the name @ReallyVirtual. On early Sunday morning, however, he seemingly (and unknowingly) Tweeted the assassination of Osama bin Laden, as it happened, in Abbottabad, starting with this soon-to-be-famous Tweet: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."  


The timeline seems to match up exactly with events as they have been reported in multiple outlets. Four helicopters, reportedly under the command of a Navy SEAL surgical strike team, raided a compound in the small, wealthy suburb of Abbottabad early this morning. One of the helicopters was reportedly damaged by enemy gunfire. According to a statement by President Barack Obama this evening, Osama bin Laden was killed after a firefight with U.S. operatives.

You can see Athar's full Twitter feed since this morning, as he learns about the death of bin Laden, what he witnessed, and his own sudden fame. "Uh oh," he writes, "now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it."

Thus far he seems to be remaining level-headed. "I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash," he wrote. "Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That's all."

UPDATE, 10:08 AM: Athar, after sleeping briefly, seems to be turning into something of a nexus of news about the Osama bin Laden raid. He just posted the following YouTube video on his Twitter feed, showing Osama bin Laden's hideout.

His here is full Twitter feed, in reverse chronological order, from the time of the helicopter raid onward until early Monday morning, Pakistan time:

  • I guess an 'is now following you' GMail filter is the next logical step Mon May 02 06:47:15 +0000 2011
  • For the people who are trying to email me to reach me, I simply can't filter out the notifications from the emails :-( Mon May 02 06:33:15 +0000 2011
  • Interesting, I didn't think my name would trend on twtter before releasing a couple of rock albums and a few award-winning software.... Mon May 02 06:25:34 +0000 2011
  • @saidation D saidation People don't use twitter here, hence they don't realize the attention they're getting. Ignorance is bliss. Mon May 02 06:08:31 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal Yea now I'm waiting for the bounty money ;-) Mon May 02 06:03:06 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal I am working. On the PC. The coffeeshop staff can't reach here due to traffic blocks, so tell me how I can manage that? lol Mon May 02 06:02:29 +0000 2011
  • It is a good thing my blog server is infected with malware today, I guess :-/ Mon May 02 06:01:12 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal nah, can't handle the rush at the moment ;-) Mon May 02 06:00:18 +0000 2011
  • @ExecSkelton I was at least 2-3 km away from that area. Planning to stay alive, if they let me live, lol. Mon May 02 05:59:01 +0000 2011
  • 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. Mon May 02 05:57:46 +0000 2011
  • @sabahat24 Irony follows me everywhere I go :-/ Mon May 02 05:54:47 +0000 2011
  • @bweixlmann Thanks for the concern, I'm alive so far :-) Mon May 02 05:52:46 +0000 2011
  • @saidation People who dream about twitter follower counts need a shrink, seriously Mon May 02 05:50:54 +0000 2011
  • And the big question is - now that OBL does not live in Abbottabad, is it open to terrorist attacks too? Mon May 02 05:49:52 +0000 2011
  • The shopping plaza I'm in is almost entirely closed, probably mainly because the traffic is blocked in a few places Mon May 02 05:47:58 +0000 2011
  • Uh oh, time to log out of Skype, this is insane Mon May 02 05:46:29 +0000 2011
  • For the curious, here is life in abbottabad two minutes ago Mon May 02 05:40:16 +0000 2011
  • @cszrom The area is offlimits to everyone - and I have other commitments... #binladen Mon May 02 05:37:09 +0000 2011
  • Ok, I give up. I can't read all the @ mentions so I'll stop trying. Mon May 02 05:34:01 +0000 2011
  • @FauziaBurke neither is OBL. lol Mon May 02 05:32:38 +0000 2011
  • @solomonchik too fast to count or care... Mon May 02 05:30:59 +0000 2011
  • @bunduboots A *tiny* coffee shop , that I set up because I couldn't find any real coffee here, but you're welcome to visit #Abbotabad #win Mon May 02 05:13:12 +0000 2011
  • At least the power is back... two shots of robusta is what I need now Mon May 02 05:02:22 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal not really... Mon May 02 04:49:57 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal I need to find a large rock first, before the cameras arrive, lol Mon May 02 04:48:17 +0000 2011
  • Time to turn on the generator Mon May 02 04:45:57 +0000 2011
  • oh I forgot, one needs electricity to make coffee, which, we don't have right now in Abbottabad. :-/ Mon May 02 04:45:28 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal lol @ dead = very puny Mon May 02 04:44:44 +0000 2011
  • @MahaRafiAtal lol not just you, and nothing to be sorry about (I think) :-) I guess I'll go drink a couple of espresso shots to keep me up Mon May 02 04:44:27 +0000 2011
  • and here come the mails from the mainstream media... *sigh* Mon May 02 04:42:14 +0000 2011
  • Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it. Mon May 02 04:41:46 +0000 2011
  • I need to sleep, but Osama had to pick this day to die :-/ Mon May 02 04:03:10 +0000 2011
  • Damn its getting hard to RT some funny Abbottabad tweets, they're scrolling so fast :-( Mon May 02 03:53:28 +0000 2011
  • @harisn we are both right outside Islamabad :-) Mon May 02 03:47:18 +0000 2011
  • I guess I should unsubscribe from the #abbottabad search on twitter before it kills my machine. Leave Abbottabad alone, Osama and Obama... Mon May 02 03:41:56 +0000 2011
  • @kursed so, not that hard anymore I guess? Mon May 02 03:35:45 +0000 2011
  • Wondering what would be the right music to play in the coffee shop today... Mon May 02 03:35:21 +0000 2011
  • RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed it << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/ Mon May 02 03:31:46 +0000 2011
  • I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. *sigh* Mon May 02 03:27:13 +0000 2011
  • @kursed I think I should take out my big blower to blow the fog of war away and see the clearer picture. Mon May 02 03:24:54 +0000 2011
  • @kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes. Mon May 02 03:24:11 +0000 2011
  • Report from a sweeper: A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for. Mon May 02 03:21:18 +0000 2011
  • @kursed True, but stranger things have happened. I just hope they don't find my giant helicopter swatter. Must hide it :-/ Mon May 02 03:15:30 +0000 2011
  • @ahmedbilal @kursed Sadly. We should start learning how to spread believable stories and recreate a reality that suits us. Mon May 02 03:12:56 +0000 2011
  • @kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras - and got away Mon May 02 03:10:45 +0000 2011
  • @kursed What really happened doesn't matter if there is an official story behind it that 99.999% of the world would believe Mon May 02 03:08:21 +0000 2011
  • Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding Mon May 02 03:02:58 +0000 2011
  • Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today Mon May 02 03:00:35 +0000 2011
  • @raihak The day there is uninterrupted electricity in Lahore for a whole month, I will start packing my bags, until then, Abbottabad is home Sun May 01 23:14:56 +0000 2011
  • And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad... Sun May 01 22:39:30 +0000 2011
  • and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/ Sun May 01 22:05:06 +0000 2011
  • Two helicpoters, one down, could actually be the training accident scenario they're saying it was >> Sun May 01 21:43:55 +0000 2011
  • Here's the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>> Sun May 01 21:34:46 +0000 2011
  • @smedica 'safer' is a relative term that has lost its meaning in Pakistan Sun May 01 21:26:30 +0000 2011
  • @smedica I live near Jalal Baba Auditorium Sun May 01 21:23:26 +0000 2011
  • @smedica It must have been more, I started noticing the helicpoter when the noise got irritating - which part of Abbottabd are you in? Sun May 01 21:20:07 +0000 2011
  • @tahirakram very likely - but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was. Sun May 01 21:16:01 +0000 2011
  • @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. Sun May 01 21:15:15 +0000 2011
  • @wqs figures, if they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, the must have the same instructions for PMA Sun May 01 21:14:07 +0000 2011
  • The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there's report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone. Sun May 01 21:10:32 +0000 2011
  • @tahirakram they're not saying anything Sun May 01 21:05:12 +0000 2011
  • @kashaziz technically, it is unidentified until identified, and it is a flying object, so year, why the hell not, we have seen weirder stuff Sun May 01 21:04:40 +0000 2011
  • @tahirakram yea. *hides his giant swatter* Sun May 01 21:03:28 +0000 2011
  • @raihak yep, the mad power cuts have reached abbottabad - 14 hours daily - luckily I have a generator AND a UPS at the coffee shop Sun May 01 21:03:06 +0000 2011
  • Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad Sun May 01 21:02:08 +0000 2011
  • @raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the 'being safe' strategy Sun May 01 20:57:35 +0000 2011
  • @raihak I try, man, I try Sun May 01 20:57:06 +0000 2011
  • @m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani... Sun May 01 20:48:14 +0000 2011
  • @m0hcin seems like my giant swatter worked ! Sun May 01 20:46:39 +0000 2011
  • @m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too. Sun May 01 20:44:48 +0000 2011
  • A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S Sun May 01 20:09:10 +0000 2011
  • Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/ Sun May 01 20:05:31 +0000 2011
  • Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). Sun May 01 19:58:24 +0000 2011
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