CIA 'live tweets' killing of Osama on 5-year anniversary

WASHINGTON • The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has marked the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden by live-tweeting - with a five-year delay - the raid by US special forces on the Al-Qaeda founder's compound in Pakistan.

Using the hashtag #UBLRaid, the CIA blasted out updates of the May 2011 strike as if it was unfolding in real time, in a highly unusual move for the secretive spy agency.

"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 (sic)," @CIA said in announcing its social media blitz.

Tweets included the now famous picture of President Barack Obama and other high-ranking US officials watching matters unfold from the White House's Situation Room.

"1.51pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) - Helicopters depart from Afghanistan for compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan #UBLRaid," read one tweet.

"3.30pm EDT - 2 helicopters descend on compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 1 crashes, but assault continues without delay or injury #UBLRaid," read another.

That was followed just minutes later by: "3.39pm EDT - Usama Bin Ladin found on third floor and killed #UBLRaid."

The CIA's Twitter move got quite a bit of attention, with not everyone enthused.

"@CIA Are we tweeting Hiroshima on August 6th too? Or is THAT in bad taste?" tweeted one user Kris Knight.

But others reacted positively.

"Watching the @CIA relive on Twitter the #UBLRaid today reminds me of how proud I am of the men and women who do what they do. Thank you," tweeted user Toby Knapp.

With 1.33 million Twitter followers, the CIA has sent 1,662 tweets since it joined the social media service in February 2014.

Amid the tweet storm, CIA chief John Brennan said on Sunday that taking out the head of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would have a "great impact".

He also warned that terrorist network Al-Qaeda remained a threat, and that ISIS was not just an organisation but a phenomenon.

"We have destroyed a large part of Al-Qaeda. It's not completely eliminated. So we have to stay focused on what it can do," Mr Brennan told NBC's Meet the Press talk show. "Now, with the new phenomenon of (ISIS), this is going to challenge us for years to come," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'CIA 'live tweets' killing of Osama on 5-year anniversary'. Print Edition | Subscribe