The CIA marked the fifth anniversary of the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden by revealing some little-known details about the operation — in “real-time” on Twitter.
Over a series of tweets posted to its verified Twitter feed on Sunday, the agency gave its 1.3 million Twitter followers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the mission unfolded.
The timing of the posts more or less matched the CIA’s official timeline of the assault on the al-Qaida leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
“To mark the 5th anniversary,” the CIA explained, “we will tweet the raid as if it were happening today.”
Assault team trained on an exact life-size replica of compound w movable walls to prep for any internal layout they might encounter#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
1:51 pm EDT - Helicopters depart from Afghanistan for compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
3:30 pm EDT - 2 helicopters descend on compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 1 crashes, but assault continues without delay or injury#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
4:05 pm EDT - First helicopter leaves the area to go back to Afghanistan#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
4:10 pm EDT — Backup helicopter picks up remaining team members & materials & leaves Abbottabad#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
5:53 pm EDT - Helicopters return to Afghanistan where Admiral McRaven greets team#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
Hillary Clinton, who was then secretary of state, says she believes the Pakistanis knew bin Laden was hiding in their country, but that the United States was unable to prove the suspicion.
“There was never any evidence that we could uncover that led directly to the top of the Pakistani military and intelligence service,” Clinton told CNN in a primetime special on the raid set to air on Monday. “I believe Pakistanis knew. I believe Pakistanis either in service or retired or both knew.”
Meanwhile, the network also tracked down Sohaib Athar, the Pakistani software engineer who unwittingly broke the news that the raid on the bin Laden compound was underway.
Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 1, 2011
“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event),” Athar tweeted before hearing an explosion.
A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 1, 2011
“I thought finally the terrorists had made themselves known in Abbottabad,” Athar, who still works as an IT consultant in Pakistan, told CNN in January.
Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 1, 2011
He soon found out — along with the rest of the world — what he was, in fact, tweeting about.
Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 2, 2011