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.
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
Today's five most popular stories