Osama bin Laden dead: Raid was confidential but Twitter wasn’t [Video]

May 2, 2011
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The reports of Osama bin Laden's death may be ubiquitous now, but the story inadvertently broke - and played out amid the firefight - on Twitter first. Abbottabad resident Sohaib Athar noted a "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)" and then "A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S" without realizing he was giving an on-the-ground insight into what the US government has described as a 40-minute "surgical raid".

That raid saw one helicopter downed "due to mechanical failure" (although that cause was later denied by senior officials in the briefing) though with no loss of life, as well as the deaths of bin Laden, three adult males and one woman reportedly used as a human shield. The house Bin Laden was using has been described as "purpose built" to shelter an individual, with significant levels of security and a suburban location which dissuaded military forces from using an unmanned drone.

There's a comprehensive obituary on Osama bin Laden at the Guardian and a timeline of Athar's tweets at TechCrunch. The full transcript of the Whitehouse press briefing about the raid - much of which is still being treated as confidential - is here, and President Obama's video address is below.


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