Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Bin Laden Raid Was Live-Tweeted (Unknowingly)

Twitter user Sohaib Athar live-tweeted the deadly raid on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan about seven hours before U.S. President Barack Obama announced it had been successful in a live telecast.

Athar, a Pakistani IT consultant who tweets under the handle “ReallyVirtual,” has been living in the vacation town of Abbottabad, where bin Laden was found and killed in a mansion.

“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event),” was his first tweet on the matter, followed by “Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/.”

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

“@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani…”

“Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicopters, and since they’re saying it was not “ours”, so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad.”

Athar also helpfully tweeted a link to where the supposed helicopter crash occurred (shown at left), and a picture of downtown Abbottabad on the day of May 2 after everything calmed down (see at right).

But Athar didn’t welcome the burst of fame brought when his tweeting was discovered in the hours after Obama’s address. As he put it, “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.”

The White House’s official version of events, which explain the “helicopter crash” described by Athar was a helicopter used in the raid that was destroyed after it had a mechanical failure, can be found here.

According to officials, bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound was discovered in part because it was valued at approximately $1 million but had no Internet or phone service.

You can read the (fictional) user-generated reviews of it on Google Maps here (the page has now been taken down, but a screenshot is below).


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