This is a guest post from Sarah Willey, a Senior Account Executive at Racepoint Group. Follow her on Twitter @willey774.
As @bmfalc described in her post yesterday, most of us were learning about the death of Osama bin Laden in real time through social media. But can you imagine what it must have been like for the man who unknowingly tweeted about the raid on Osama.
It all started from a man in Abbottabad (the town where Osama lived) when Mr. Sohaib Athar, known to thousands of followers as @ReallyVirtual, first wrote about a helicopter hovering above him at 1 a.m., saying it was a “rare event.” That was 3:30 p.m. EST on Sunday. Within minutes, he tweeted, “A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S”. After a while when the sound of the helicopter stopped following a blast, Mr. Athar tweeted “seems like my giant swatter worked !” That was followed by a Twitter discussion about what had happened. He wrote to “@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani…” Mr. Athar noted that “Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicopters, and since they’re saying it was not ‘ours’, so must be a complicated situation#abbottabad”
Over the next two hours, Mr. Athar, who describes himself as an IT consultant, exchanged messages with a few other Twitter users about what had happened, learning that there was a helicopter crash. They wondered whether it was an attack or an accident.
“And now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/” tweeted Mr. Athar. He retweeted Ibrar Ali (@ibi2010) , who said: 1 dead and 1 injured in Abbottabad for heli crashed.”
Mr. Athar seems to have gone offline for a few hours, resurfacing this morning to tweet: “interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today.” Shortly thereafter, Mr. Athar figured out what had happened.
He retweeted a tweet from Munzir Naqvi: “I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected.”
Mr. Athar was clearly unhappy.
“I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. *sigh*”
A short time later, another Twitter user confirmed the news. Mr. Athar tweeted “RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed it << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/”
As the Twitter world discovered Mr. Athar’s tweets, thousands of followers have added him to their list of followers. As of 8:46 am EST on May 3, 2011, @ReallyVirtual had 93,321 followers and counting!