April 13, 2009
: Throughout his career
, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey devoted energy and attention to issues in Africa, including the atrocities in Rwanda and Darfur. In April 2009, he visited Somalia, despite advice from the State Department not to do so, in order to meet with the country's new President, Sheikh Sharif Sheekh Ahmed. As the Democratic congressman's plane was taking off from Mogadishu -- on April 13, the day after the rescue of Phillips -- the aircraft came under mortar fire
. The attack, which Payne's aircraft narrowly escaped, was claimed by Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in Somalia. Asked by CNN why he undertook the risky trip, Payne said
, "I've been dealing with that area for the last 20 years. And I had worked during the past two or three years trying to help them form a new government."