The al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab has long had a haven in Somalia in parts of the country where the Somali government has no reach. In a moment, we'll hear about the recent death of an American member of al-Shabab and his unusual communication with an American journalist. But first, a closer look at the security situation in Somalia. I spoke yesterday to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. He's in Washington, D.C. ahead of next week's United Nations general assembly meeting. President Mohamud said al-Shabab has been driven out of Somalia's towns and cities, but there's no doubt the group still remains a threat.

PRESIDENT HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD: The nature of this type of organization is when they lost militarily, they melt down into the society and they keep continuing on this suicide bomb mission or roadside bombs, they're using IEDs or a bomb, hand grenade throwing in the middle of the night. And this type of incidence will continue for some time, but we have all the confidence that this will also end soon.

MARTIN: So, you're saying while the network itself may have dissolved, individual members who are still intent on waging some kind of jihad are conducting their own individual attacks.

MOHAMUD: Yes. They are there and they don't have borders, of course. Somalia might be where they have training centers or bomb-making factories or things like that. But, you know, the top leadership of Shabaab, including those who have been killed recently, which was American citizens and British citizens who were the leading figures in the hierarchies of al-Shabab, that proves that this is an ideology and anybody who believes that ideology is part of Shabab. So, now is the only time that al-Shabab is really defeated. I'm saying that they do control territories but these controlled territories are very remote areas.

MARTIN: Do you have any influence in those parts of the country? How far does your government's reach extend in Somalia?

MOHAMUD: I came to the office a year ago when Shabab was in control of all Somali territory, including Mogadishu, the capital. And from that one year, we pushed Shabab far away from the capital, and we took over most of the regional capitals in Somalia, and we're continuing to push them. And I think we made a lot of progress in the last one year and we keep continuing on taking over those strategic points. And then make - follow them onto these remote areas.

MARTIN: When you come to the U.N. general assembly, when you meet with other heads of state, how do you make the case that Somalia, even though victimized by violence of all kinds, civil war, Islamist militant threat, extreme poverty, piracy, that Somalia is still worth a heavy investment in terms of international aid?

MOHAMUD: You see, this type of trend will continue, unless we make a genuine intervention in aid, and the only option that's available right now is the international community to support the state-building of Somalia, so that we will have functioning state institutions in place. This is what we have been sharing all over the world whenever we can. This is the second time coming here in Washington, and we're presenting the progress that we're making and the plans that we have in place so that the world supports those plans. The world does not support individual leadership or group or whatever, they support plans and programs that takes Somalia out of the emergency to recovery and then from recovery to development in the future.

MARTIN: President Mohamud of Somalia, thank you so much for talking with us.

MOHAMUD: You're most welcome. Thank you very much.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.