A German-born rap artist who signed deals with top record companies and later converted to radical Islam is at the head of the ISIS recruitment programme which filmed the beheading of four Western captives and is pulling in hundreds of young people with British passports to fight in Iraq and Syria.
Born to a German mother and an absent Ghanian father, Denis Cuspert, who was known professionally as ‘Deso Dogg’ but now prefers Abu Talha al-Amani is the 39 year-old rapper turned jihadi recruiter with his own command of German-speaking fighters. Although it is understood he left his lucrative music career after converting to radical Islam, his music videos contain hints of what was to come, including masked men with machine-guns and the artist, tattooed with a long crescent-shaped sword and grenade prostrate on an Islamic prayer mat making his devotions.
One of the videos he apparently masterminded and appeared in featured a beheading, and Cuspert posing with the severed head of a Sunni tribesman who had opposed ISIS. The gruesome ‘Jihadi John’ videos which showed the beheading of Western prisoners James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning were also apparently commissioned by the rapper.
Cuspert has a criminal past, having served time in Germany’s prison system for drugs offences, and has been investigated for firearm possession while working as a rapper in a career that spanned nearly ten years. Taking those skills to the Islamic State, he now produces propaganda for the Caliphate in a role likened in a report by the Sun to that of German Nazi propagandist Joeseph Goebbels.
Reports in a German secret service dossier on the rapper repeated his words on his mission to radicalise the world: “My duty is to use my voice for telling people the truth and the truth is jihad is a duty”. He said: “We must scourge the world of non-believers. We must wage Holy War because it is our duty to Allah… We must build a global caliphate. The world will convert to Islam or it will perish”.