Somali president defies Al-Shabaab by venturing into Mogadishu
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
- Somali president attended a hotel opening in Mogadishu's militant occupied outskirts
- He was targeted by al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab on his second day in office
- The president tells CNN that al-Shabaab "no longer call the shots in Mogadishu"
Editor's note: CNN correspondent Nima Elbagir, has been reporting on Somalia since 2006. Last week she was given a rare interview with the president and rode with his security convoy as he visited a militant stronghold on the outskirts of the capital, Mogadishu, in defiance of the continuing threats on his life.
Mogadishu (CNN) -- A female soldier roughly passes her hands over the waistband of my jeans as a finishing touch to the most intimate pat down I've ever received. But we're not done yet, a metal detector is then passed in unusually close contact with my skin. Up down, over and around.
And that's just to get through the first gate.
At the second entrance, a Somali close protection officer bars the way and Special Forces officers crowd around as our camera is switched off and on to prove it is indeed a camera.
Even though we had traveled in with African Union soldiers tasked with escorting the President, suspicions still had to be assuaged.
In the boat patrolling for pirates
And if all this seems extreme, it isn't.
On his second day in office, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was targeted by the al-Qaeda linked militant group al-Shabaab, and even on this day, as we drive through town, we pass the still-smoking wreckage of the Somali Minister of Interior's convoy. A car filled with explosives drove into his flag car, detonating on impact.
The president tells me he is aware that these trips he makes cause consternation among his advisers, but he has absolutely no intention of stopping
Fortunately for the Minister he wasn't in the car at the time. Eight civilians, though, were killed on the street.
Read more: Suicide bomber targets Qatari delegation in Somalia, 8 dead
And yet, Mahmud insisted on keeping this appointment at an opening of a hotel in Deynile, on the outskirts of Mogadishu where Al-Shabaab still have a presence.
If he's worried he didn't look it, smiling from behind his wrap-around shades as women dressed in the Somali flag sing traditional songs of welcome.
Eventually he is brought to us around the back of the courtyard for our scheduled interview -- but not before the perimeter is repeatedly swept.
Read more: Dozens dead in Somali courthouse attack
In an open-air space like this, though, there is only so much his men can do. Especially when his enemies are willing to die for the cause.
The president tells me he is aware that these trips he makes cause consternation among his advisers, but he has absolutely no intention of stopping. He says they send the most powerful message of all -- that al-Shabaab no longer call the shots in Mogadishu.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
It's a very big challenge but NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan thinks it can be done.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert explains how the most recent ISIS video differs from the other previous hostage execution videos.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT)
Volunteer fighters in eastern Ukraine dig down just 800 meters from the front line.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.