Abu Talha al-Almani, a former German-Ghanaian gangster rapper known as Deso Dogg, is now a designated global terrorist. The U.S. State Department made the announcement Monday (Feb. 9) after stating al-Almani joined Islamic State militants in 2012 and appeared in several videos on the group’s behalf.
Born Denis Cuspert and reared in Germany, al-Almani was drawn to gangster rap as a youth. He then fell into the Salafi movement, which is a strict form of Sunni Islam that strictly follows Muslim law. The same Salafists are thought to be behind many of the ISIS/ISIL operations and the surging Boko Haram militants.
As a singer of “nasheeds” or Islamic devotional music, al-Amani morphed from his former “Jihadi Rap” and moved into these chants which focused on themes of becoming a martyr. The State Department had al-Amani on their radar in 2013, but a 2014 clip showing him in front of a slate of bodies was what sparked the recent designation.
More from The New York Times:
This week, Mr. Cuspert was transformed again. The American State Department announced Monday that, as “a willing pitchman” for the extremist group’s “atrocities,” Mr. Cuspert was now a “specially designated global terrorist” sought worldwide.
The designation means that Mr. Cuspert, 39, has gone from being a notorious figure in Germany to one recognized everywhere, and it puts him in the cross hairs of American intelligence in the Syrian region.
The potential evidence against him includes a July 2014 video that, a German report says, shows Mr. Cuspert and a pile of corpses in civilian clothes, apparently victims of a battle for control of the much-contested Shaer gas field near Homs in Syria.
Intelligence from German officials has been slowly arriving, but it appears the State Department has gathered enough information to seek out al-Amani on their own terms. Although it was suggested the al-Amani was killed last year, the video mentioned by the Times was released after that period.
Read the full New York Times report here.