Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man who live-tweeted Osama bin Laden raid to talk at Eckerd College on Tuesday

ST. PETERSBURG — Sohaib Athar didn't set out to record history when he live-tweeted the strange sounds — a helicopter flying overhead, then an explosion — he heard last year in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Only later would Athar and the world learn that the IT consultant was describing the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound as it happened on May 2, 2011. Now Athar will share his story in a Tuesday evening discussion at Eckerd College's Fox Hall at 7:30 p.m.

The discussion, called "Tweeting Osama's Death: From Citizen to Journalist," will be moderated by Steve Myers, managing editor for, the website of the Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times.

Athar's first tweet about the raid on his Twitter handle @ReallyVirtual read: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event.)" He became an instant media celebrity, his Twitter followers jump from 750 to about 86,000, and news organizations all over the world clamored to talk to him.

Athar has been dubbed a "citizen journalist" for unknowingly live-tweeting the events that led to the death of the al Qaeda's leader. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Eckerd College Organization of Students and Poynter.

Man who live-tweeted Osama bin Laden raid to talk at Eckerd College on Tuesday 03/05/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 6:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn't follow through


    President Donald Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.

    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting  with members of the Senate Finance Committee and his economic team on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at the White House in Washington, D.C. [Pool photo by Chris Kleponis | Getty Images]
  2. State House leader Corcoran urges Congress to back Trump tax cuts


    TAMPA — At a time when President Donald Trump's relations with Congress grow frayed, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran lined up solidly with Trump Tuesday in urging Congress members from Florida to back the president's tax-cutting legislation.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran backs the supply-side economic theory that cutting federal taxes for business owners would result in more jobs for others. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery placed on National Register of Historic Places

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Tampa's Oaklawn and neighboring St. Louis cemeteries just north of downtown have been added to the National Register of  Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  4. Romano: Love to hear your Nazi speech, but I'm washing my hair

    Human Interest

    A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.

    Richard Spencer, center in sunglasses, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clashed with anti-fascist protesters and police in August in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]
  5. Editorial: More work needed to stem juvenile car thefts


    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County's juvenile car theft epidemic. The good news is that arrests ticked down slightly last year — a sign that law enforcement may be beginning to contain the problem. The bad: Reports of stolen vehicles in Pinellas are up this year, and the problem may be …

    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County’s juvenile car theft epidemic.