Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/02/bin_laden_raid_tweeted/

Pakistani IT admin leaks bin Laden raid on Twitter

Twitterati learn of raid before bin Laden

By Rik Myslewski

Posted in Media, 2nd May 2011 16:33 GMT

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".

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".