IT consultant Sohaid Athar said that he retreated to Abbottabad Lahora, Pakistan to "take a break from the rat-race" by hiding in the mountains with his laptops. Tucked away in his secluded retreat, he had no clue that his early Monday morning tweets of the noise happening outside his windows would eventually become a part of history books. Now he calls himself the "guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it," and faces press hounds on a global scale that have come calling at his front door.
"Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the 'being safe' strategy," he said in his home near the Jalal Baba Auditorium. "'Safer' is a relative term that has lost its meaning in Pakistan. The day there is uninterrupted electricity in Lahore for a whole month, I will start packing my bags, until then, Abbottabad is home."
Using the Twitter handle ReallyVirtual, Athar started his "eye-witness" account of Osama Bin Laden's take-down around twenty hours ago, reporting that a helicopter was hovering above Abbottabad at 1 a.m. his time-- a rare event according to Athar. After threatening to bring out his giant swatter (which later he apologized for), he heard a huge "window-shaking bang" and hoped it wasn't the start of something nasty.
"All silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too," he said in numerous tweets. "The few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani. Since Taliban (probably) don't have helicopters, and since they're saying it was not 'ours,' so must be a complicated situation."
"The Abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there's report of a flash," he added. "People saying it could be a drone. If they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, they must have the same instructions for PMA."
Naturally Athar didn't liveblog the entire incident leading the elite "Team 6" Navy SEALs squad to Osama Bin Laden's front yard. But he gives a personal accounting of what happened when the two Cobra helicopters came into his region, one of which had "technical issues" and suffered a "soft crash landing." The original plan was for the Navy SEALs to rappel down into Osama's $1,000,000 compound according to reports.
"And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad," he described as the Pakistan military fighter jets came rushing to the scene looking for the U.S. Helicopters-- one pilot was dead and the other went missing. "A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for. The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding."
The rest of the story is based on what he heard from others and tweeted reports offered by followers. Eventually he revealed that the press started contacting him by email and Skype. His Twitter account, which was opened in May 2007 and collected around 750 followers as of April 30, now has around 48,000 followers and climbing.
So much for getting away from the rat-race and hiding in the mountains.