Denis Cuspert, known as the German rapper Deso Dogg, has reportedly been killed by anti-ISIS forces in the Deir Ezzor province of eastern Syria on January 17, 2018. According to the U.S. consultancy group SITE, the pro-ISIS Wafa’ Media Group released a photo of a dead Cuspert under is jihadist name Abu Talha al-Almani.
This is the second time it has been reported that Cuspert has been killed. In October 2015, U.S. officials announced that they believed a coalition air-strike had killed the rapper. It was later confirmed that he had indeed survived.
Cuspert became famous in the gangster German rap scene under the pseudonym Deso Dogg and toured with U.S. rapper DMX. During his time with ISIS, he gained almost celebrity status for his propaganda videos and seducing an FBI agent into marrying him.
His rap lyrics were often dark and violent. He grew up in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district to a German mother and Ghanian father. At a young age, he became active in gangs and spent time in young offenders’ institution which was the inspiration for his music.
Speaking with The Guardian, Shiraz Mahe the deputy director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence explained how German youth were easily recruited by ISIS.
“There was this whole subculture that these guys were buying into: a macho world of clandestine behavior beyond social norms. A lot of the appeal to these people was based on masculinity and bravado rather than something ideological or religious.”
Cuspert converted to Islam in 2007 and after a near-fatal car crash, he became interested in more radical Islamic groups. In 2012, he traveled to Egypt to study under a radical Imam and was reported to have entered Syria in 2013 where began fighting for the Islamic State.
Reports from Islamic State fighters that Denis Cuspert, a German rapper turned jihadist, has been killed in Syria. He was also known as Deso Dogg (his rap name) and Abu Talha al-Almani. pic.twitter.com/hCPdau3mMH— Shiraz Maher (@ShirazMaher) January 19, 2018
During his time with ISIS, he became a notorious member appearing in and producing propaganda videos. He was dubbed names like the “gangsta jihadi” and “Goebbels of ISIS.” It is believed he produced the violent videos of executions carried out by Jihadi John.
According to CNN, in 2014 he seduced and later married FBI translator Daniela Greene that was tasked with tracking him down. Greene crossed the border from Turkey into Syria where she married Cuspert. After a few weeks, she began having doubts about her decision and fled back to the United States. She was charged with 2-years in prison for making false claims regarding terrorism. Her sentence has been viewed by many as being too light, raising suspicions about what actually took place during her time in Syria.
Currently, there has been no official U.S. report that Cuspert has been killed.