Osama Bin Laden Killed: Raid Live on Twitter by Sohaib Athar

The news that’s dominating the world headlines today is the death of Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda leader, killed in a raid in Pakistan by a team of US forces. Apart from traditional media, the news has also taken the social media world by storm and we now hear that in fact the raid that led to Bin Laden’s death was reported live by an unsuspecting person on Twitter.

We’ve already told about social media reactions to Bin Laden’s death and how Facebook Likes have gone off the scale at the news but the idea that this event was actually liveblogged is pretty fascinating, although at the time the man involved had no idea of what the events unfolding concerned. Sohaib Athar, otherwise @ReallyVirtual, told details of the mission on Sunday that killed Bin Laden, and lives in Abbottabad, the town where the raid took place, according to Jolie O’Dell over on Mashable.

The first tweet regarding the incident read, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” Nine hours later he realized that what he’d been reporting on was the mission to get Bin Laden. Athar also tweeted that one of the helicopters had crashed and also told how they were not Pakistani aircraft. It was later confirmed that out of 4 helicopters used in the raid, one had been hit by ground fire. Athar also spoke of how the events seemed to be unfolding between 2 and 3 kilometers from where he was and once it became clear just what he’d heard seen and heard tweeted, “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”

Even though Athar had reported on one of the world’s most momentous recent events he later modestly tweeted, “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.” In fact Athar has now been inundated by people from around the world and in his last tweet around an hour ago said, “Bin Laden is dead. I didn’t kill him. Please let me sleep now.”

This really illustrates the immediacy and widespread use of Twitter in this modern age and no doubt we will hear more major news events liveblogged in this way, whether the person realized the significance at the time or not. Send us your comments on this intriguing story.