Tweeter ‘broke’ operation

THE news that Osama bin Laden had been killed broke on Twitter shortly before US President Barack Obama made the official announcement.

An IT consultant living in Abbottabad unknowingly tweeted the first details of the operation. Sohaib Athar has been inundated with requests for interviews since.

At 1am local time (9pm BST), Mr Athar noted on Twitter that a helicopter was hovering overhead shortly before the assault began and said that it might not be a Pakistani aircraft.

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

Shortly afterwards, he reported 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.”

As the raid continued, Mr Athar and other tweeters in the area gathered more and more information.

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

But his hideaway is now becoming one of the biggest news stories of the century.

“I’ve been tweeting for about 5, 6 years, and been tweeting about Abbottabad because no one really talks about it,” he wrote. “I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet.”


Lifestyle

Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner