A German former rapper who joined the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed by an American airstrike, officials said today.
Denis Cuspert, 39, who once used the stage name "Deso Dogg," died on October 16 near the group's Syrian headquarters of Raqqa, US Defense Department spokeswoman Elissa Smith told AFP.
Cuspert joined IS, also known as ISIL, in 2012 and went on to serve as a recruiter and propagandist focused on attracting German speakers to the group, the State Department said in February this year, while officially designating him a terrorist.
Smith said that Cuspert publicly threatened US President Barack Obama and American and German citizens.
"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," officials said in February.
The United Nations Security Council described him as "supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to" and "recruiting for" IS a few days later.
Cuspert's music career took off in the mid-2000s when he gained popularity in the German gangsta rap scene with songs like 'Ganxtaboggy' and 'Daz iz ein drive by'
The former rapper has appeared in a number of IS propaganda videos under the nom de guerre Abu Talha al-Almani, including one released in November 2014, in which he brandished a severed head described as belonging to a man killed for opposing the group.
In another, he renounced the rap scene as "brainwashing," complained about his life in Germany surrounded by kuffar (a derogatory term for non-Muslims) and advised wannabe German mujahideen to save up their unemployment benefit so that they could travel to fight in Syria or at least move to majority-Sunni Muslim Turkey.
Cuspert's music career took off in the mid-2000s when he gained popularity in the German gangsta rap scene with songs like Ganxtaboggy and Daz iz ein drive by from his (currently out of stock on Amazon) Murda Cocctail Vol. 1 mixtape and went on to tour with DMX.
In 2010, after almost dying in a car crash, he publicly announced his conversion to Islam and began voicing his support for Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere. He is then understood to have made his way to Egypt, before turning up in Syria splashing around in a stream, and posing with a rocket launcher.
Rumors of Cuspert's demise have been circulated before. He was last reported dead in April 2014, when two members of al Qaeda's Syrian franchise Jabhat al Nusra blew themselves up outside a house containing several IS fighters. He had previously also been injured during fighting in Azaz, after which footage of his seemingly lifeless body was circulated.
Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck