(Doug Bernard returns Tuesday to Digital Frontiers)
A software consultant living in Abbottabad, Pakistan may have been the first to alert his neighbors (and the world) to what was happening in his town when he inadvertently tweeted about the Navy Seal raid on a nearby compound, in which the FBI’s (the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation) most wanted terrorist was killed. Under the user name “Really Virtual,” Sohaib Athar tweeted May 1, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”
Athar went on to admonish the helicopter for hovering above as he tweeted, “Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/” After learning that the helicopter crashed, he apologized to the pilots for the swatter comment.
The Twitter feed goes on for several hours with Athar and neighbors trying to figure out what’s happening in Abbottabad, as the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound begins and then ends with the death of the al-Qaida leader.
Now, the Abbottabad tweeter is being inundated with media requests for an interview. Yours truly included.
Athar also has a blog. His last entry is titled The Guy Who Liveblogged the Osama Raid Without Knowing It and simply says, “is what I am for the next few hours on Twitter. I am too tired and sleepy to blog or talk about it though, but I guess it is finally time to revive this abandoned blog. Maybe tomorrow…”
VOA’s Asia editor was monitoring the tweets overnight, Washington DC time. He later spoke to Paul Westpheling, host of the English radio program “International Edition,” about the 33 year-old tweeter and the town in which he lives.