- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2015

A German citizen and former hip-hop artist who appeared recently in an Islamic State beheading video has been added to the U.S. government’s official “specially designated global terrorist” list, the State Department said Monday.

Denis Cuspert, 39, joined the extremist al Qaeda-inspired outfit, also known as ISIS or ISIL in Syria and Iraq, in 2012 and has since become a recruiter “with special emphasis on recruiting German speakers” to the group, the department said in a statement.

News reports indicate that that Mr. Cuspert, who now goes by the name Abu Talha al-Almani, previously had a career as a gangsta rapper on Germany’s hip-hop scene, where he was known by the stage name “Deso Dogg.”

He is believed to have converted to Islam and traveled to the Middle East at some point prior to the 2011 start of Syria’s civil war. Yahoo reported in September that German intelligence officials had grown wary his activities may inspire other German recruits to joint the extremist group or possibly carry out terrorist attacks in Europe.

In designating him as a terrorist, the State Department said Monday that “Cuspert joined ISIL in 2012 and has appeared in numerous videos on its behalf, the most recent dating from early November, in which he appears holding a severed head he claims belongs to a man executed for opposing ISIL.”

“Born in Berlin, the 39-year-old Cuspert spent time in jail for various offenses,” the department said in a statement. “Now calling himself Abu Talha al-Almani, Cuspert has pledged an oath of loyalty to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and appears to serve as an ISIL recruiter with special emphasis on recruiting German speakers to ISIL.”

Cuspert is emblematic of the type of foreign recruit ISIL seeks for its ranks — individuals who have engaged in criminal activity in their home countries who then travel to Iraq and Syria to commit far worse crimes against the people of those countries,” the department said. “Foreign terrorist fighters are reported to have played significant roles in some of ISIL’s most egregious crimes, including the massacres of the Sh’aitat tribe in Syria and the Albu Nimr tribe in Iraq, as well as the almost daily public executions in Raqqa.”

As a result of the terrorist designation, U.S. officials said they will seize any property Mr. Cuspert has under U.S. jurisdiction and block any U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with him.

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