At around 1.00 am on Monday morning, Sohaib Athar was disturbed by the loud whirring of chopper rotors. Unable to sleep, the irritated IT consultant, who had earlier been posting about load shedding and power cuts in Abottabad, tweeted: ‘Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/.’
A few moments later, he tweeted again: ‘A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope it’s not the start of something nasty’.
After almost an hour, it was: ‘All silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone…’
It was nearly 7 hours after this tweet that the 33-year-old—who goes by the twitter handle @ReallyVirtual—realized that he was live tweeting a US military operation in which Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Like all other recent world incidents—including the uprisings in Egypt and Libya and the Japanese earthquake—Twitter and social networks once again came alive as netizens tweeted and posted about Osama’s death.
From the US, most tweets reflected the euphoria of a nation that saw the event as an end to its 10-year-long war on terror that began after 9/11 in 2001.
“I am so happy this madman is finally dead. To do what he did, this guy deserves what he got and that is to rot. This is the best news I have ever heard in my life. USA rules,” a user posted.
While another Facebooker wrote: “Normally I don’t celebrate bad guys getting killed, but I did make a quiet ‘Yes!’ when I logged on and read the news this morning.”
For most of the night the microblog was alive with tweets and retweets from people posting about the US military’s ambush on the man who was deemed the world’s Most Wanted terrorist.
While some posts praised US Navy Seals, a few others resorted to black humour and sarcasm.
“They should have captured Bin Laden alive and made him continually go through airport security for the rest of his life,” tweeted DanaArikane alluding to heightened airport security measures, post 9/11.
Another user, referring to the now-ubiquitous GPS-based social network chimed: “Bin Laden’s last words: I knew I shouldn’t have signed up for Foursquare!”
Google Trends that measures search trends listed ‘osama bin laden dead’ as the top search of the day.
Other searches in the Top 20 included ‘obama approval rating’, ‘islamabad’, ‘twin towers’, ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘ground zero’.
By evening, however, the biggest trend on the social networks was the Vatican. Netizens began tweeting and posting about the Roman Catholic Church’s statement which said Christians “do not rejoice over a death,” it serves to remind them of “each person’s responsibility before God and men.”