Sohaib Athar, a resident of Abbottabad, Pakistan, spent Sunday’s wee hours tweeting about helicopters circling overhead and a mysterious blast. Little did he imagine that he was recording the U.S. attack on the world’s most wanted terrorist.
On his Twitter page, Athar (@ReallyVirtual) describes himself as “an IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops.” But this weekend, he found himself at the center of the action. At about 1 a.m. local time on Sunday, Athar tweeted about a “helicopter hovering above Abbottabad (a rare event),” later joking that he might have to make use of his “giant swatter.”
(More on TIME.com: “Death Comes for the Master Terrorist: Osama bin Laden, 1957-2011”)
As U.S. operatives captured and killed the long fugitive leader of al-Qaeda in a short-lived firefight, Athar wrote of a “window-shaking bang” and the power outages that followed. “Funny,” he tweeted, “moving to Abbottabad was supposed to be part of the ‘being safe’ strategy.” He would go on to detail the crash of one helicopter engaged in the raid, speculating that it might be a drone or a UFO and relaying reports that it was shot down “near the Bilal Town area.” In actuality, the U.S. military aircraft went down due to a mechanical failure.
Later, our unsuspecting witness caught wind of the news that the noise wasn’t for nothing. “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it,” he finally recognized. “And here come the mails from the mainstream media… *sigh*.” So much for achieving anonymity in the mountains.
See the full timeline at http://twitter.com/#!/ReallyVirtual.