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Osama Bin Laden Raid First Revealed On Twitter

Following today’s event, this article is an interesting excerpt from the BBC which shows the power of technology particularly social media, in this case Twitter, and the role it can play in reporting events and breaking news on the world stage. While so many world news organisations would love to take credit for being the first to report the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, it appears an IT consultant living in Abbottabad would be the first to unintentionally tweet details of the American special forces operation as it happened.

Sohaib Athar wrote that a helicopter was hovering overhead shortly before the assault began and said that it might not be a Pakistani aircraft.

He only became aware of the significance of his tweets after President Obama announced details of Bin Laden’s death.

Mr Athar’s first posting on the subject came at around 1am local time (9pm BST).

He wrote: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

Soon after, he reported the sound of an explosion, now known to have been US forces blowing-up their damaged helicopter.

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

Throughout the raid, Mr Athar was drawing on information from friends in the local area who were also online.

“A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty” 

Sohaib Athar

“The few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani…”

“People are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful.”

US officials stated that the raid took less than 40 minutes, but Mr Athar said there was still a military presence in the area two hours later.

“And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad…”

In his Twitter biography, Sohaib Athar describes himself as: “An IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops.”

However, his postings during and after the raid reveal a frustration that world events had caught-up with him.

“I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. *sigh*”

Mr Athar told the BBC’s Nosheen Abbas in Pakistan that his tweets has led to a deluge of interview requests from media organisations around the world.

He also said that he was not surprised to be the only person writing about events as they happened.

“I’ve been tweeting for about 5, 6 years, and been tweeting about Abbottabad because no one really talks about it,

“In fact, not many people use Twitter here. Everyone uses Facebook,” he said.”

Read full BBC article here

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  1. Berry

    May 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Wow the power of social media! I’m glad we got him!

  2. Nick

    May 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Social media is taking over too much.

    I did find it funny though how Jack Bauer was one of the main trending topics after the anouncement of bin laden’s death.

  3. clear

    May 3, 2011 at 5:29 am

    osama is number one enemy word wide, n he has kill …..

  4. Wholesale supplier

    May 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    No doubt social media network is doing really fast and great job. There have many social media website but twitter is one of the best. Now a days twitter is the best tool for socialism, business, news and all important activities to related human life.

  5. Ava

    May 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I just went on his Twitter page and read the feed. That is really something. Can you imagine if this was you? Twitter makes it possible, but it also makes everything public.

  6. Michael

    May 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    What happened to Osama Bin Laden is a victory to America (that’s pretty obvious). However, I’m still thinking about the next step of the group just to get justice for what happened to Bin Laden.

  7. Jane Cooper

    May 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Obama still rocked it because he has live transmission ;d

  8. fabioz

    May 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Just something that I notice, when i saw @ReallyVirtual twitter 3 days ago it was around 20k followers, now its over 100k.

    So it kinda proves the point of the phrase “be in the right place at the right time” (but not for Osama anyway)

  9. Rosie

    November 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Oh wow I never heard about this! I love going to BBC for news, I usually go to and scan the articles, then I go to the BBC page and it’s interesting to see the difference. I really like watching BBC news, too. I think it gives a much more comprehensive (and less biased) view of what’s going on around the world. Our domestic news hardly compares in my opinion.

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