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Pakistani IT admin leaks bin Laden raid on Twitter

Twitterati learn of raid before bin Laden

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Updated Before Osama bin Laden knew that a squadron of US Navy Seals was approaching his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, their approach had been tweeted to the world by a 33-year-old IT admin, Sohaib Athar.

Tweeting under the username shared by his personal blog, RealityVirtual, Athar reported on the unfolding "complicated situation".

  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S
  • aihak Hassan Rai
    @ReallyVirtual be safe!
  • m0hcin Mohcin Shah
    @ReallyVirtual Hello sir, any update on the blasts? What has really happened?
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    @m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too.
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    @m0hcin http://bit.ly/ljB6p6 seems like my giant swatter worked !
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    @m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani...
  • han3yy Hania Ahmed
    OMG :S Bomb Blasts in Abbottabad.. I hope everyone is fine :(
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    @raihak I try, man, I try
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    @raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the 'being safe' strategy
  • ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar
    Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad

The helicopter crash to which Athar referred to in the link he provided relating the joking success of his "giant swatter" was later reported by US officials as being a US helicopter that was destroyed after a mechanical failure to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

Athar's blog has been dormant since July of last year, but his opinion of the Pakistani state is clear from his last post before today's events:

Most of us Pakistani IT professionals spend our lives shielded from the 'system'. Yes, we sometimes come out of our shells and protest against whatever we believe we have to demonstrate against – and yes, we do write blog posts and opine and criticize and debate, and sometimes attend the feel-good TEDx talks to ‘spread ideas’ – but living in front of our computers, we rarely get a first-hand experience of the system that we loathe (but one that we have to live in).

Athar wasn't the only tweeter to break news about the bin Laden raid. Last night at around 10:30 Eastern time – after it had already been announced that President Obama was about to make a major announcement – the former chief of staff of the former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, Keith Urbahn, tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn," followed by "Don't know if its true, but let's pray it is."

It's a brave new news world, one in which traditional news agencies will always be beaten to the punch by the Twitterati. ®

Update

An earlier version of this article linked to Athar's personal blog, ReallyVirtual. As Websense now reports, his site has since been infected by hackers, and will attempt to install malware on any computer that visits it. For obvious reasons, The Reg has removed that link from our story.

As Athar tweeted after being inundated with messages from news bureaus and fellow tweeters, "It is a good thing my blog server is infected with malware today, I guess :-/". Also, providing proof of his sanity after being told by one tweeter that his follower count was "going off the charts", Athar responded: "People who dream about twitter follower counts need a shrink, seriously".

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