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Osama bin Laden raid live tweeted; pair found out later what the commotion was about [Video]

May 2, 2011 | 10:43 am


Sohaib Athar and Mohsin Shah live tweeted about the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday and didn't even realize it.

The two men were sending messages on Twitter, at about 1 a.m. their time, writing about abnormal helicopter activity -- particularly flybys and a helicopter crash.

Athar's Twitter bio says he is "an IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains" of Abbottabad (the Pakistani city where Bin Laden was living when he was killed). Shah identifies himself as living in nearby Rawalpindi.

Although neither man knew what they were writing about at the time last night, they knew about it shortly thereafter.

On Monday morning, after speaking with Reuters and other news agencies about his tweets, Athar jokingly apologized for his micro-blogging of the events surrounding Bin Laden's death.

Athar wrote (at about 9:15 a.m. L.A. time) on Monday:

I apologize for reporting the operation 'unwittingly/unknowingly' - had I known about it, I would have tweeted about it 'wittingly' I swear.

Shah received much less press attention on Sunday and into Monday and that, he wrote (at about 8:30 a.m. L.A. time) on Monday on Twitter, was OK with him.

@extremedonkey Seems like TechCrunch guys found a little late hence the updated article and thankfully not much publicity for me.

Here's a rundown of selected tweets from Athar and Shah, which started at about 12:58 p.m. L.A. time on Sunday or 12:58 a.m. in Abbottabad.

From Athar, who is on Twitter as @ReallyVirtual at 12:58 a.m.:

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

Athar at 1:05 a.m.:

Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/

Athar at 1:09 a.m.:

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

Then Athar got a tweet from Shah, who is on Twitter as @m0hcin at 1:43 a.m.:

@ReallyVirtual Hello sir, any update on the blasts? What has really happened?

Athar responded to Shah at 1:44 a.m.:

@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too.

Again, from Athar to Shah, at 1:46 a.m.:

@m0hcin seems like my giant swatter worked !

Shah then asked Athar at 1:47 a.m.:

@ReallyVirtual So what do you guess by the intensity of the blast, any casualties expected? Also exact location?

Athar replied to Shah at 1:48 a.m.:

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

Shah, to Athar, at 1:50 a.m.:

@ReallyVirtual Oh! That's not good. Also this is a very unusual time for copter flights.

Shah then tweeted at 1:54 a.m.:

 Seems something nasty happening in #Abbottabad, God save us.

Athar wrote at 2:02 a.m.:

Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad

Athar at 2:10 a.m.:

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.

Athar at 2:34 a.m.:

Here's the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>>

From Shah at 3:02 a.m.:

Uncle in Atd: Heli was hovering over a militant hideout, heard 3 minor blasts + fire exchange before the heli went down. @kaalakawaa

Athar at 3:05 a.m.:

and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/

Athar at 3:39 a.m.:

And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad...

Athar at 8:00 a.m.:

Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today

Athar at 8:02 a.m.:

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

 Athar at 8:31 a.m.:

RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed it << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/

Athar at 8:41 a.m.:

I guess I should unsubscribe from the #abbottabad search on twitter before it kills my machine. Leave Abbottabad alone, Osama and Obama...

Athar at 9:41 a.m.:

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

 Athar at 9:42 a.m.:

and here come the mails from the mainstream media... *sigh*

Athar at 10:49 a.m.:

And the big question is - now that OBL does not live in Abbottabad, is it open to terrorist attacks too?

 Athar at 10:57 a.m.:

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.

Athar at 11:25 a.m.:

Interesting, I didn't think my name would trend on twtter before releasing a couple of rock albums and a few award-winning software....

Shah at 4:12 p.m.:

Oh. My. God. Just woke up after a long lazy sleep to the news that Bin Laden was killed in the attack I was tweeting last night.

Shah at 4:27 p.m.:

Thanks for all these @ messages people, always hated accidental celebs. Not anymore. Ha.

Athar at 4:32 p.m.:

Bin Laden is dead. I didn't kill him. Please let me sleep now.

Athar at 8:21 p.m.:

Fact: I don't own a TV set and stopped watching TV many years ago. Sorry three-lettered-big-tv-news-channels for not replying to your emails

Athar at 9:58 p.m.:

and a video of OBL's hideout in Abbottabad - after the incident (shared by friend)

Embedded below is the video that Athar tweeted a link to:


Full coverage: U.S. Kills Osama bin Laden

On Facebook, celebration and accusation over Osama bin Laden's death

White House welcomes news on Osama bin Laden's death but eschews jubilation

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of a Twitter message from Sohaib Athar on his live blogging of the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden. Credit: Twitter