A Twitter user apparently live blogged about the U.S. attack on Osama bin Laden yesterday, describing the firefight vaguely without knowing what was happening.
No other medium captured the action as it was happening, though users on Facebook may also have conversed about the raid as it was happening. If anything, this series of tweets will probably show how Twitter had its true “CNN moment,” much like the 1990 Gulf War opening was captured by CNN.
Sohaib Athar, an information technology manager at Really Virtual, live blogged about the firefight at Osama bin Laden’s compound. Athar goes by the handle @ReallyVirtual on Twitter.
Stories about the attack say that the $1 million compound where bin Laden lived had no telephone or internet service. Ironically, if it did, Athar’s tweets could have tipped off bin Laden about the attack. (No, I don’t think anyone should blame Athar for doing what he did).
Based on Athar’s tweet record, he first started describing the event in Abbottobad, Pakistan, about 10 hours ago, saying, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”
Then he said, “Go away helicopter — before I take out my giant fly swatter:-/.” His next tweet was more ominous, “A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope it’s not the start of something nasty :-S.”
Then he noted that it fell silent. He tweeted later, “The few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani…”
Later on, Athar tweeted, “Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicopters and since they’re saying it was not ‘ours,’ so must be a complicated situation #abbattabad.” He later said the helicopter was shot down near the Bilal Town area and “there’s report of a flash. People are saying it could be a drone.” He started retweeting speculation from others who heard the same thing.
Then there are a couple of tweets with the #Abbattabad hash tag that say a Pakistani Army major said the helicopter crash is “accidental and not an attack.” Then the speculation starts getting more and more focused on the actual news, such as the helicopters being “foreign Cobras,” meaning U.S.-made Cobra attack helicopters.
Athar learned about the fate of bin Laden about two hours ago and then said, “Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood.” “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it,” he said after that. And then he said, “and here come the mails from the mainstream media…sigh.”
Update: Websense Security says that Athar’s web site has now been infected with malware.