On 1 May, 2011, US special forces carried out an operation to attack the residence of then Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They succeeded in killing the terrorist mastermind, bringing to an end a decade-long man-hunt.
On the fifth anniversary of this raid, the CIA took the controversial step of live-tweeting the entire raid, reconstructing it tweet by tweet as if it were happening in real time.
To mark the 5th anniversary of the Usama Bin Ladin operation in Abbottabad we will tweet the raid as if it were happening today.#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
The raid started with the approval of top officials, including the President of the United States.
Two helicopters left Afghanistan, but one of them crashed. The operation still continued.
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
3:39 pm EDT - Usama Bin Ladin found on third floor and killed#UBLRaid— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
The CIA tweeted other details, including pictures, maps and the plan of the house Bin Laden was staying in.
While the capturing of Osama Bin Laden’s compound was touted as a proud moments for the US, a lot of Twitter users rolled their eyes at the re-enactment.
@CIA This is grotesque and embarrassing. You should fire your web team.— Hank Single (@Hanksingle) May 1, 2016
In 2011, a resident of Abbottabad named Shoaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) unknowingly live-tweeted the raid in a series of tweets that went viral all over the world. The IT consultant was tweeting about rather unusual activities that were taking place in the town that night.
In 2012, a Hollywood movie based on the raid was released; Zero Dark Thirty earned positive reviews in general.