June 10th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

First senior U.S. official in 19 years visits Mogadishu

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.

A year ago, the visit would have been unthinkable. But in August, African Union troops pushed Al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group affiliated with al Qaeda, out of central Mogadishu after years of bitter urban fighting.

The last senior U.S. official visited Mogadishu 19 years ago, officials said.

In recent weeks, Al-Shabaab has suffered more setbacks, with Ugandan troops occupying the Afgoye corridor near Mogadishu and Kenyan troops taking the key town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.

However, Carson said Al-Shabaab still represents a significant terror threat, both internally and internationally.

"Over the last year, Al-Shabaab has become formally affiliated with al Qaeda, and senior leaders of Al-Shabaab have befriended individuals who are linked with al Qaeda," he said.

"They have befriended foreign fighters who have come in from the Middle East and South Asia. And their presence is a source of concern in Somalia as well as in the region and also for the global community."

Security analysts worry Al-Shabaab leaders could slip into Yemen and link up with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of al Qaeda's most active affiliates.

"Let me just say that the Red Sea is very narrow between Somalia and Yemen. And we know that there have been movements of individuals associated with extremist movements back and forth between those two countries," he said.

The U.S. government recently offered millions of dollars for information on seven key members of Al-Shabaab through its Rewards for Justice program.

In response, an Al-Shabaab official has reportedly offered 10 camels for information on President Barack Obama and two camels for information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In response to a question about Al-Shabaab's reported response, Carson called it "so absurd that it doesn't deserve a response."

While the security situation has improved dramatically in Mogadishu, Carson said that political reforms must now catch up with the security gains.

On August 20, the mandate for Somalia's transitional federal government will run out. Somali elders need to pass a new constitution and elect new leadership before then.

But while several stumbling blocks could lie ahead, Carson said he was confident that the road map will be completed in time and threatened sanctions against anyone who acted as a spoiler - including senior government officials.

"Things are moving in a very positive direction," he said.

Post by:
Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Security Brief • Somalia • Yemen
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Cris

    There is nothing good about this video it is just inoechrent and blatantly edited to encourage paranoia. BNP propaganda at it's most transparent, shame on you for being taken in by it! The IRA bombers were Catholic, the British colonials were Christian, Al Qaeda are Muslim and Mao was an atheist. It doesn't mean anything whatever people believe there will be a way for them to justify doing good or doing bad.Britain is clearly not under Shar'ia law, but we did go to war in a Muslim country (under a thinly veiled pretext of ensuring our access to oil) which is bound to create more British Muslims who are disillusioned with our government, as well as people who saw their civilian families killed and want revenge. What you fail to see in this video is all the racist attacks on muslims and people who looked a bit muslim' following 9/11. It is people like THAT, and people like whoever made this video, who are trying to create and exacerbate conflict where there shouldn't be any. This is hate propaganda for the Daily Mail brigade, and it has no place in a civilised world.

    September 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  2. karbvi

    what on earth have you been smoking, the only contribution Muslims are making these days are beheadings, acid throwing thugs, little girl rapers, suicide cowardly bombers, cruelty to all animals, lazy, non intergrating criminals.The reputation and view of Muslims by other people is atrocious and will take a huge change on their part to rectify it.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  3. Mogadishu, Somalia

    Only if America leaves Somalia’s domestic affairs alone, we, Somalis, can and will be able to solve our internal affairs, once and for all; however, the Son of Kenya, who now leads America, does not want Somalis to solve their problem. I wonder why? Is it because American taxpayers give huge amount of money to the UN and other good for nothing agencies, and then that money is wasted by the Western Aid agency mafia’s in Nairobi!

    June 11, 2012 at 3:04 am | Reply
    • amirion

      Only if the foreign terrorists from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other foreign countries leave Somalia’s domestic affairs alone, we, Somalis, can and will be able to solve our internal affairs, once and for all; however, those SOB, who now lead terror initiatives in several countries killing innocent people, most of them Muslims, do not want Somalis to solve their problem. I wonder why? Is it because terrorist supporters give huge amount of money to finance al-Qaeda and other good for nothing terrormongering agencies, and then that money is wasted in killing innocent people around the world!

      June 11, 2012 at 3:28 am | Reply
      • Mogadishu, Somalia

        I am for a world, where the Children Ibrahim and Hawa (Peace be up them) leave peace and harmony. Please don't call someone's mother SOB.

        May Allah bring peace in Somalia and to our world.

        June 11, 2012 at 3:42 am |
    • Lawja

      I agree with the idea you have however they do not have ability to solve it own their own

      June 11, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
  4. cas

    I hope the commenting here does not suggest that more of these people are breeding than the sound and educated

    June 11, 2012 at 1:11 am | Reply
  5. cas

    U.S waan ni baryaa...please send in more drones. Somali government should seriously consider financing part of the U.S drone program to target this Saudi financed morons.....

    June 11, 2012 at 1:08 am | Reply
    • Mogadishu, Somalia

      Warya, why in the world would you be asking for American Drones to kill people? These Drones have been killing innocent people all over the the Muslim world, and the Son of Kenya, says he is not responsible, because he decides to dies and lives... He is acting like God. May Allah protect Muslims who are been slaughter like goats by the West.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:24 am | Reply
      • amirion

        Why in the world would you be asking for American Drones to kill people? These Drones have been killing innocent people all over the the Muslim world because of the innocent people being used as human shields by the terrorists, and those SOBs say the guilty are the ones that are persecuting those criminals, because they decide who dies and lives... They are acting like God. May Allah protect Muslims who are been slaughter like goats by those blasphemous terrorists who act like they were God.

        June 11, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  6. Willy

    "Let me just say that the Red Sea is very narrow between Somalia and Yemen. And we know that there have been movements of individuals associated with extremist movements back and forth between those two countries,"

    Exactly what part of the Red Sea is he referring to?? B/c in my geography classes the Red Sea doesn't touch Somalia... maybe they have better maps at the DoS than the Dept of Edu provides the schools.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • BlacknWhite

      You should probably review those maps...

      June 11, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • duh

      Somalia and Ethiopia are sometimes also described as Red Sea territories. This is primarily due to their proximity to and geological similarities with the nations facing the Red Sea and/or political ties.

      June 11, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  7. JLA 2010

    Ary an Nation feces from tiredofwar. Talk about revisionist history....you guys still celebrating that Austrian paperhanger's BD?

    June 11, 2012 at 12:58 am | Reply
  8. vinnieG

    LOL..... 10 camels for information on the U.S. President. I guess from where they are there's no CNN connection. Shame on you CNN. You better get in there so these people will have up to the minute news.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Don't be fooled; these are used camels. (Previously owned camels).

      June 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Reply
  9. hoss

    a black person negotiating with other black people. That worked really well in detroit.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
    • dorian taft

      touche

      June 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Reply
    • truthhurts

      Somalia is just like Detroit- high crime, nobody works, AIDs, drugs, bad education, no parenting. Well I guess that describes every black area in the world. They sure can run fast though.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Reply
      • Mogadishu, Somalia

        My friend, you don't have to insult a nation of 10 million to make your points. You need to act like a civilized person. Even though, we might be poor materially, we still have some moral values that were taught to us by our grandparents like insulting people. Google Somalia and read about it. Don't listen CNN and other Propaganda machines.

        June 11, 2012 at 3:33 am |
      • mohamed

        ARE YOU raped by aids invested peson in detroit?. just for your info Somalis have NO aids coward

        June 11, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  10. dorian taft

    As usual, there is no mention of the real reason Mogadishu is getting safer. Turkish aid agencies are on the ground offering real help than talk. I suppose the editors are protecting us from that little detail.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • amirion

      Turkish aid is welcome. However, I never heard of any aid agency that managed to push out a terrorist army from a territory. Unless the Red Cross-Crescent actually sent tanks and troops there. The good work was don by African troops and after that the Turkish can do safely their good job there.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:34 am | Reply
    • Mogadishu, Somalia

      Turkey's sole mission is to bring peace and development to Somalia, unlike the mafia (UN), who only benefit destructions of other nations. For long the UN , continues to use Somalia's name to collect billions only to be pocket by the big guys in Nairobi.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:50 am | Reply
  11. Zoglet

    Have they gone there to ask for their helicopter back?

    June 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • JLA 2010

      Cheap shot, zoglet. Maybe you recall the Somali people were starving.Recall the UN was airlifting food. You might remember the warlord thugs preventing food delivery, shooting Somalis trying to get food off of UN trucks.

      The Americans there were part of the UN force to get the food to the Somali people; those helcopters you reference were there to deal with the garbage denying the Somali adults and children the food. We left more than just helicopters in Mogadishu, amigo. But then thats what Americans at our best do–give that others may live and be free.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
      • Mogadishu, Somalia

        I have the utmost respect for the people. However, I don’t like U.S. government foreign policy, which is the America knows what is best for others while America does not know what is best for its people. That being said, The American taxpayers have feed so many people around the world including myself, and I, for one, will always be grateful for that.

        June 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • Mogadishu, Somalia

        I have the utmost respect for the American people. However, I don’t like U.S. government foreign policy, which is the America knows what is best for others while America does not know what is best for its people. That being said, The American taxpayers have feed so many people around the world including myself, and I, for one, will always be grateful for that.

        June 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  12. Bruce

    what good reason does our government have to send anything but a cruise missle to somalia after 19 years? are we extending apologies for our soldiers getting in the way of their bullets? are we looking for more recipients of foreign aid? this makes me want to puke.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Reply
    • Sombre

      I can tell you in three letters why we are sending someone there. O I L. Huge reserves have been discovered off the coast in Somali territory. Stabilize the country, establish a friendly puppet in charge... and rake in the $$$$ until the next coup d'etat.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply
    • Yogita

      A problem of coitinucammon? No, other crucial differences. The book Fire in the East' was surely right to suggest that blood-and-soil nationalism is on the rise in Asia, while economic determinism rules in the West.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:52 am | Reply
  13. Keksi

    So USA will take offer of 10 camels and 20 chickens for Obama and Hillary????

    June 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  14. krm1007 ©™

    It appears to me that Muslims are the fastest growing segment of world society today. As others are withering away the Muslims seem to be rising again with their contributions as was the case historically when they ruled India and Europe and left behind a legacy of science, art, architecture, culinary et al. One only needs to go to Spain and India to witness this. As immigrants, it is a good thing to be aware of your glorious heritage and be connected with it. The Italian immigrants do it as do the Germans, Polish, Jewish, Hispanic and many other cultures. What really pleasantly surprised me was what I witnessed in the Middle East. A tolerant society that has come so far in a few years. Most importantly providing job and economic opportunities to all, Hindus/Indians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Europeans, Americans, Africans, South Americans, Chinese, and Russians etc. Never have I witnessed such openness and equal opportunities unless you go back to the times of Muslim rule in India and Spain. My conclusion is that the Muslims get it. They are striving to once again take their leadership role in the world order and take this civilization to its next level of excellence. The climb to success and progress is not a linear curve but a stochastic one. Let us join in wishing our Muslim brethren well and much success in their endeavors. If we can't help them let's not pull the rug from under them

    June 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
    • Darren Hurst

      Islam is a dangerous ideology that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people daily. It only brings increased violence, murder, oppression and unemployment everywhere it rears its ugly head.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Reply
      • Mogadishu, Somalia

        My friend, please don't blame Islam for the world problem, but rather blame Muslims who are ignorant about their religion. I cannot blame all Christian or non-believers - crimes against humanity committed by their leaders. If Muslims read the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad carefully, then the world would be a better place.

        June 11, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Dennis

      And what is it that Muslims get?...To kill people in the name of Allah?...The remainder of the world gets that they will kill in a moments notice,taking out women,children,and even their fellow Muslims brothers in pursuit of their murderous cause.Boko Haram,Al-Shabaab,the 9/11 hijackers,AQAP,The Taliban,yes they all "get it".To "get it" to you means that it is okay to kill innocents with no real reason except to spread terror and misery in pursuit of your faith that is about 1,000 years behind time in reality of thought and reasoning.Perhaps one day you will also "get it" and open your eyes to the destruction that Islam is causing to itself and the entire world.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Reply
    • Mcluvin

      KRM, Great attempt to convert me to your ideology of hate. You can cherry pick your historic examples of the wonders of Islam. History tells a different story. It spread from the Arabian peninsula over a few hundred years leaving dead Christians and Jews everywhere it went from present day Saudi, North to Constantinople, and West all the way to the Atlantic, Spain, and the entire northern Mediterranean Sea portion of Europe. People need to familiarize themselves with the violent history of Islam. It is historical fact that Mohammed "peace be upon him" was a warrior/general who's policy was to kill anyone who would not convert. No, he was not just like Christ, who never killed or harmed anyone. More like Attila the Hun, who raped pillaged and burned everywhere he went, feeding peoples desire for combat and the spoils of war. Muslims who want to convert from Islam are given the choice, once, to correct themselves or die. The second time, there is no choice under Shariah law, you die. Christians across the Muslim world live in fear of attack, yet you speak of this great tolerant religion. Are you high? Read some history of Islam and you'll be appalled. I have to laugh at this glowing endorsement of the cancer of civilization. It's Hitler's Nazi ideology on steroids protected under the veil of religion.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
      • tiredofwar

        History is currently being distorted by the millions of Christians who lie to have us believe that the Holocaust was not a Christian deed. Through subterfuge and concealment, many of today’s Church leaders and faithful Christians have camouflaged the Christianity of Adolf Hitler and have attempted to mark him an atheist, a pagan cult worshipper, or a false Christian in order to place his misdeeds on those with out Jesus. However, from the earliest formation of the Nazi party and throughout the period of conquest and growth, Hitler expressed his Christian support to the German citizenry and soldiers. Those who would make Hitler an atheist should turn their eyes to history books before they address their pews and chat rooms.

        perhaps you forgot the history of Hitler who wanted to form a society in which ALL people worshiped Jesus and considered any questioning of such to be heresy. The Holocaust was like a modern inquisition, killing all who did not accept Jesus. Though more Jews were killed then any other it should be noted that MANY ARYAN pagans and atheists were murdered for their non-belief in Christ.]

        Here Hitler uses the Bible and his Christianity in order to attack the Jews and uphold his antisemitism:

        "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people." –Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

        June 11, 2012 at 12:23 am |
      • amirion

        @tiredofwar: Hitler planned to exterminate Christianism, to implement a cult to his own person. Do not mess things. Many Christian leaders were executed in concentrations camps and many others gave support and saved many Jew lives, risking their own lives by doing so. Hitler's hate against Christianism is widely known and studied in books. If you are lazy enough not to update your knowledge about this, at least inform yourself at Wikipedia before publishing such nonsense http: //en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

        June 11, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Mcluvin

      KRM, Great attempt to convert me to your ideology of hate. You can cherry pick your historic examples of the wonders of Islam. History tells a different story. It spread from the Arabian peninsula over a few hundred years leaving dead Christians and Jews everywhere it went from present day Saudi, North to Constantinople, and West all the way to the Atlantic, Spain, and the entire northern Mediterranean Sea portion of Europe. People need to familiarize themselves with the violent history of Islam. It is historical fact that Mohammed "peace be upon him" was a warrior/general who's policy was to kill anyone who would not convert. No, he was not just like Christ, who never killed or harmed anyone. More like Attila the Hun, who raped pillaged and burned everywhere he went, feeding peoples desire for combat and the spoils of war. Muslims who want to convert from Islam are given the choice, once, to correct themselves or die. The second time, there is no choice under Shariah law, you die. Christians across the Muslim world live in fear of attack, yet you speak of this great tolerant religion. Are you high? Read some history of Islam and you'll be appalled. I have to laugh at this glowing endorsement of the cancer of civilization. It's Hitler's Nazi ideology on steroids protected under the veil of religion. Islam and terrorism/fascism are are synonymous. Peace, not so much.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Reply
      • Mcluvin

        Sorry for the double post.

        June 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
      • nealio

        Mcluvin wrote: "... It (Islam) spread from the Arabian peninsula over a few hundred years leaving dead Christians and Jews everywhere it went ..."

        Salaadin welcomed Jews back to Israel and protected them in the Christian lands he conquered throughout N Africa and Europe, where they were previously persecuted by the Christian church and leaders. It was Muslim and Jewish blood that ran like rivers at the hands of European Crusaders as they fought side by side to repel the invaders.

        No one should pick and choose (cherry pick I believe was the phrase used) historical facts to present their biased opinion, or you'll each be displaying only ignorance of the facts.

        June 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • tiredofwar

        its interesting you mentioned Hitler, a staunch Roman catholic who gassed some 6 million Jews. Hitler was baptized as Roman Catholic during infancy in Austria, and this was what he had to say:

        Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” –Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

        “The anti-Semitism of the new movement [Christian Social movement] was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.” –Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf (This quote is very interesting for it disperses the idea that Hitler raged war due to being an Aryan supremacist. He states quite clearly that he has a problem with Jews for their belief not race. That is why many German Jews died in WW2 regardless of their Aryan nationality.)

        June 11, 2012 at 12:09 am |
      • amirion

        Before Islam, all North of Africa and Middle East was Christian. It was a powerful church, who sent missionaries to China and other countries. After Islam conquered those Christian countries around 700AD, martyrdom begun for Christians. Read the books by Prof. Pilip Jenkins from Oxford University The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–And How It Died. The Muslims invaded Spain in 710AD, exterminating the Christian kingdoms there. In 810AD Muslim troops already had created emirates in south Italy and invaded and sacked the Vatican, the center of Catholic Christianism. After Islam had attacked Christian kingdoms along all the Mediterranean for around 300 years, finally the Christian kingdoms united above their theologic disputes to defend themselves from Muslim aggression. Only in 1090AD the first Crusade was launched. It is clear by historic chronologie that the Crusades were a reaction against continuing 300 year Muslim aggression.

        June 11, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • colonelingus

      That is without a doubt the biggest pile of BS I have read all weekend. Islam is the greatest scourge of modern society. Go burrow back under your rock, Lowlife.

      June 11, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
  15. Jaimie

    WOW. I still do not trust the war lords there but to have a US high official there? Must be some security detail...

    June 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  16. ALL uh

    Muslim sand monkeys love murder and hardship.

    June 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • David Kuklinski

      And you're no better than the ones who you hate. It's lackwits like you on both sides that cause this world to suck.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Reply
      • Darren Hurst

        Kuklinski: Facts are facts. You can call a bowl of mud ice cream but it is still a bowl of mud. Remember Islam is not a race but a dangerous ideology.

        June 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • amirion

      In fact, Islam's sacred book does mention monkeys, but in a context referrring to Christian and Jews.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:58 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.