— The Erimtan Angle —

“A German rapper who joined the Islamic State in Syria is overseeing the extremist group’s effort to recruit Britons. Denis Cuspert, from Berlin, has become the jihadist group’s main propagandist, managing its sophisticated media operation. Cuspert is reportedly responsible for recruiting Britons by using English-speaking jihadists as poster children, the Daily Mail reports. He is said to be the mastermind of a campaign to attract foreigners, including German Salafists and other impressionable, radicalized youths. Cuspert is now fighting under the name Abu Talha al-Almani. The former rapper is also reportedly the leader of a combat unit of German-speaking Islamic State jihadists called the German Brigade of Millatu Ibrahim. The 39-year-old was born in Berlin to a German mother and a Ghanaian father. He became a rapper under the artist name Deso Dogg. The would-be propagandist converted to Islam in 2007 following nine years imprisonment for manslaughter. He is thought to have travelled to Syria in early 2013, swearing his allegiance to the self-proclaimed IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Last week, Cuspert appeared in a video alongside other fighters, in which at least three opponents were executed. According to the German security agency Verfassungsschutz, Cuspert is part of a “terrorist establishment” and is said to have become a member of the IS inner circle. The jihadist was reportedly seen beating a corpse with a stone in a video from July, filmed near Homs in Syria”.[1]

In 2011, Souad Mekhennet reported in the New York Times that “Mr. Cuspert, once a popular rapper in Germany, today is one of the best-known singers of nasheeds, or Islamic devotional music, in German. Security officials say, though, that he is an influential figure who incites violence and unrest through inflammatory videos and fiery speeches that praise terrorists and attack the West. German authorities say people like him inspired the fatal shootings of two American airmen at the Frankfurt airport in March [2011]. The 21-year-old man accused of the killings, Arid Uka, whose trial began in Frankfurt on Wednesday [31 August 2011], has said he opened fire on a busload of American service members after seeing a video that claimed to show a Muslim woman being raped by men in United States military uniforms. American officials have said the video — which Mr. Cuspert acknowledged posting on his Facebook page, and which Mr. Uka copied — was staged by militants . . . German terrorism investigators see Mr. Cuspert, 35, as a threat who provokes young people angered by what they see as a Western campaign against Islam; some even likened him to [now-dead] Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born preacher now in hiding [and killed by drone-strike on 30 September 2011] in Yemen who is also accused of promoting violence through speeches and videos”.[ii]  Since then the rapper has moved to other pastures, apparently having moved in to the territories of the Islamic State last year. The New York Times piece provides some interesting background information on the rapper-gone-awry: “Before he took his new name, Abou Maleeq [, which now seems to mave morphed into Abu Talha al-Almani], Mr. Cuspert had another life. He was born and reared in Berlin by his German mother. His father, who was from Ghana, left the family when Mr. Cuspert was a baby. When conflicts increased at home with his stepfather, a former American Army soldier and strict disciplinarian, Mr. Cuspert was sent to a home for difficult children. After five years, he returned home. ‘I grew up with racism’, Mr. Cuspert said. ‘Though my mother is German, some teachers back then would call me “Negro” and treat all Muslim kids bad’. His argument with American foreign policy grew in 1990 in the months leading up to the first Persian Gulf war, and he joined demonstrations in Berlin. ‘We marched, shouted and burned the American flag’, he said, smiling. The 2003 invasion of Iraq became a source for new conflicts with his stepfather. He joined youth gangs, Mr. Cuspert said, because he was in search of an identity; he found it in the streets of Berlin with the children of Arab and Turkish immigrants. He said that from an early age he trained himself in Thai boxing, tae kwon do and Brazilian jiujitsu. Social workers in Germany sent him to a special farm in Namibia that sought to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. In 1995, he found a new outlet for his anger: as the rapper Deso Dogg. He said, ‘My songs were about the time in prison, racism, war’. His music career soared. He went on tour with rappers like DMX and worked on the soundtrack for a German film. But after surviving a car accident, he started questioning his lifestyle and turned to Islam for answers. In 2010, he ended his career as a rapper and turned his focus to fighting the United States and the West. The message on his cellphone’s voice mail system makes no secret about his ultimate aim in life. ‘The martyrdom is the most beautiful’, he says in his recording. ‘Allah is the greatest'”.[3]

[1] Sam Webb, ” Unmasked: The ‘Islamic State’s Goebbels’ who masterminded beheading videos in slick campaign to sign up Britons for jihad” The Daily Mail (10 November 2014). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2827282/Unmasked-Islamic-State-s-Goebbels-masterminded-beheading-videos-slick-campaign-sign-Britons-jihad.html.

[2] Souad Mekhennet, “German Officials Alarmed by Ex-Rapper’s New Message: Jihad” The New York Times (31 August 2011). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/01/world/europe/01jihadi.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

[3] Souad Mekhennet, “German Officials Alarmed by Ex-Rapper’s New Message: Jihad”.

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