While the world concentrates on Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual on Twitter), the lone Twitter user in Abbottabad when US forces landed to take out Osama Bin Laden, there was one other Twitterer not far away trying to work out what was going on in his home town and fearing for his relatives’ safety.
Mohcin Shah, 26, lives in Rawalpindi in Pakistan, 110 km from Abbottabad. Tweeting as @m0hcin, he was the only other Twitter user in the locale both online and covering the OBL raid at the time.
Speaking exclusively to TechCrunch, Shah told how, as a telecom engineer, he has been following startups for some time, hence his interest in Twitter and social media.
It was his tweets who, along with those by @reallyvirtual, that helped to verify what was going on on the ground last night in Abbottabad. This was certainly the case for me as I was writing my story a few hours ago.
“I was going through my twitter as usual… I saw some breaking news of a heli crash in Abbottabad (Abbottabad is my home town and I have family and friends living there).
So I dug the news more through #Abbottabad and found @ReallyVirtual to be the only guy with a couple of tweets suggesting he was in Abbottabad. I engaged him and also started calling my family in Abbottabad.
After multiple attempts one of my Aunts picked her phone and I tweeted what she said. After some time I called again and this time her husband picked the phone, I got some more info and tweeted that.”
Shah told me his family lives near the place where the attack happened and he was “particularly concerned” about their safety.
He says all of the events around the raid started at around 0130 hrs local time. This matches with the time @ReallyVirtual started tweeting about helicopters flying above Abbottabad.
Meanwhile, he is “a regular reader of TechCruch” and has even tried to build a startup of his own but “left things in the middle due to alternate opportunities,” he told me via email.
He is currently unemployed but expecting confirmation of a job in a couple of weeks.
Personally, I think he should definitely get that that job now…