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
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
The comparisons are inevitable: A student-led campaign challenges Beijing authorities for greater freedom. Could Hong Kong protests lead to another Tiananmen?
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0752 GMT (1552 HKT)
In a country with not enough toilets, scavengers are paid just $5 a day to scoop human waste.
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
It's a frightening prospect for South Koreans: secret North Korean tunnels under Seoul
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 0613 GMT (1413 HKT)
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
If you're lucky, your train might be delayed.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1355 GMT (2155 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.