As Somalia's government plans a new offensive against al-Shabab, the BBC's Mary Harper considers why the Islamist militants remain so brazen.
The storming by al-Shabab fighters of Villa Somalia, the seat of government in the capital, Mogadishu, last Friday did not take me altogether by surprise.
On a recent visit to this large, shabby, sprawling compound I was struck by the lackadaisical security.
True, I had to walk through a lot of checkpoints, but each one seemed more sleepy and chaotic than the next.
They prepared themselves to die like lions”
End Quote Al-Shabab official
I was surprised the African Union and Somali government soldiers let my companion in: His name was not on the security list at the gate, and he was not carrying ID.
The day after the attack, in which at least 11 people were killed, I spoke by telephone to an al-Shabab official.
He sounded relaxed, assured and in a very good mood.
"Villa Somalia is meant to be the most protected part of Mogadishu, and Mogadishu is meant to be the most protected part of Somalia," he said.
"Yet we managed to strike the president's house. My advice to the apostate President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is try to protect your house and your staff before trying to protect your country."
He then went on to describe in great detail how "our boys" prepared for the attack...