By David McKenzie
For the first time in nearly 20 years, a senior U.S. official visited the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Sunday, a sign of improving security in a country long considered a failed state.
Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African affairs, met with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, president of Somalia's transitional government, along with several high-ranking government and diplomatic officials.
"I think that we probably are in the best position that we have been in more than two decades, and my very presence in Mogadishu was an acknowledgment of the progress made," Carson told CNN Sunday in an interview in Nairobi after leaving Somalia.
The United States is offering millions of dollars for the whereabouts of seven key members of the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based terror group behind bombings and attacks in the region.
The announcement posted on the website of the U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program offers $7 million for information on the location of Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed, the founder of al-Shabaab.
In announcing the bounties on Mohamed and his key associates Thursday, the State Department called al-Shabaab "a threat to the stability of East Africa and to the national security interests of the United States."
By Tim Lister
After years of isolation at his Abbottabad compound, Osama bin Laden's frustration was growing. He couldn't rein in groups that had taken the al Qaeda name but took little or no notice of "headquarters." He seemed even envious of their freedom to operate and of the money they had, and he was still yearning to get operatives into the United States.
Among the letters seized during the Abbottabad raid a year ago and released Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, there's plentiful evidence that bin Laden was distressed by the behavior of affiliates in Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan - and especially the casualties among Muslim civilians they were inflicting.
By 2010, the al Qaeda leader was even suggesting a fresh start. FULL POST
Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.
They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website. Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations: FULL POST
By Adam Levine
No sooner did Osama bin Laden get killed than his advice was being ignored by his adherents.
That revelation is included in Peter Bergen's blockbuster article in Time magazine describing the al Qaeda leader's life in Abbottabad. Bergen, who is also CNN's terrorism analyst, has seen some of the documents seized by the U.S. Special Operations Forces during the bin Laden raid a year ago.
Bergen reports that the al Qaeda leader warned smaller splinter groups about attaching themselves to the al Qaeda franchise.
"On Aug. 7, 2010, he wrote to the leader of the brutal al-Shabaab militia in Somalia to warn that declaring itself part of al-Qaeda would only attract enemies and make it harder to raise money from rich Arabs," Bergen noted in the Time magazine article.
By Tim Lister
It seems that all is not well within Al-Shabaab, the Somali extremist group allied to al Qaeda. A short video was posted online Friday in which its best known propagandist, an American citizen from Alabama, said he believes that others in the group might attempt to assassinate him. FULL POST
By Carol Cratty
FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday he is concerned about the potential for terrorists mounting cyber attacks and that the bureau is working "to stay ahead of these threats, both at home and abroad."
"While to date terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber attack, we cannot underestimate their intent," Mueller testified to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in which lawmakers pressed him about what additional funding and laws may be necessary to combat the cyber threat.
Mueller did not provide many details during the public session, but later met with senators behind closed doors to provide additional information.
Editor's note: Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) and the author of the forthcoming "We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen" (Hurst/Columbia University Press).
By Raffaello Pantucci, Special for CNN
Friday's conviction of Shabaaz Hussain, a former British teaching assistant for donating thousands to Al Shabaab is just the latest reason the Somali terrorist group is increasingly a priority for British security services.
With news stories of somewhere in the region of 50 British passport holders fighting alongside Al Shabaab, British officials are vigilant to the potential for terrorist plots that might emanate from Somalia in the future. FULL POST
By Adam Levine
It appears that al Qaeda's English-language outreach efforts have nearly disappeared.
IntelCenter's Ben Venzke, who keeps stats on jihadi videos, notes that the media arm of al Qaeda central, As-Sahab, has not released an English-language video since 2010.
English-language versions of al Qaeda videos started around 2000 and were either subtitled, voiceovers or transcripts, according to Venzke. The person behind most of these is believed to be American Adam Gadahn.
"It was a key way for al Qaeda to deliver its message to both a Western audience and a larger percentage of its non-Arabic-speaking followers," Venzke observes.
By Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank
At a summit in London Thursday on Somalia one of the most pressing concerns was that Islamist militancy being incubated in the failing state could result in terrorist plots being hatched against the West. Earlier this month the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab formally merged its operations with al Qaeda.
"If the rest of us just sit back and look on, we will pay a price for doing so,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday. FULL POST