The tweet that broke the news

 

The news of Osama bin Laden's death first emerged on social networking site Twitter.

In the early hours of this morning, a Pakistani man tweeted that a loud bang had rattled his windows in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, saying he hoped "its not the start of something nasty".

A few hours later Sohaib Athar posted another tweet: "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it."

Mr Athar, a resident of Abbottabad where bin Laden was hiding, first noticed a helicopter and thought it unusual enough to post this on his Twitter account.

"Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)," wrote Athar. Moments later, he added: "A huge window shaking bang here... I hope its not the start of something nasty."

After liveblogging and speculating for several hours over what happened, it dawned on him and those following him that they were witnessing the end of a worldwide manhunt for the man held responsible for orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected," said one of Mr Athar's followers.

Seven hours after his first tweet, Mr Obama announced bin Laden's death in an operation by US forces where one helicopter was lost.

Twitter, launched five years after the 2001 attacks, is used by an estimated 200 million people per day, serving as an internet platform for users to broadcast, track and share short messages of no more 140 characters in length.

Separately, in the United States, the first indication that bin Laden had been found and killed came from a another tweet by Keith Urbahn, who says on his Twitter profile that he is chief of staff for former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn," Mr Urbahn tweeted more than hour before Mr Obama's speech.