Culture clash: The artists joining the Islamic State group

Culture clash: The artists joining the Islamic State group
Blog: Despite the perceived cultural dissonance, artists of both Western and Arab backgrounds are joining up with the Islamic State group to paint a portrait of propaganda.
3 min read
16 Nov, 2015
Tunisian rapper Marouen Douiri before and after he joined IS [AAAJ]

It is not clear why artists would leave their successful careers to join the ranks of thr Islamic State group.

To walk away from an atmosphere of creativity to journey into the realm of destruction is beyond the comprehension of many.

But several such artists have been making the headlines in recent years for doing just that.

1. Denis Cuspert: His stage name was Deso Dogg, a German rapper who became one of the most high-profile Western IS fighters. He has been dubbed "The Goebbels of IS" - after the Nazi propaganda chief - for his role in recruiting new members to IS.

The 39-year-old threatened to kill US President Barack Obama and to launch terrorist attacks in Germany. He was killed in a US air raid on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the "caliphate".

Cuspert reportedly produced videos for the group and was thought to have published a clip of Mohamed "Jihadi John" Emwazi beheading prisoners.

Propagandist Denis Cuspert was killed in an airstrike on a pick-up truck [AFP]

2. Abdel-Majeed Abdel Bary: He is also known as Lyricist Jinn, a British-Egyptian rapper from London. Bary's music had at one time featured on BBC Radio 1 - but he announced that he was giving up music "for the sake of Allah" in July 2013.

He left Britain for Syria towards the beginning of 2014 and a few months later he posted a photograph of himself holding a severed head.

At one time, UK spy chiefs thought Bary may have been the British-born "Jihadi John" militant later identified as Mohamed Emwazi. 

His father, Adel Abdel Bari, was suspected of involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and having links with al-Qaeda's leaders. Adel was extradited to the US in 2012 by British authorities and was sentenced in the US to 25 years in prison on February 6, 2015.

Bary Junior is now believed to be on the run from the Islamic State group, having deserted the ranks of those he once called ideological brothers.

3. Marouen Douiri: His stage name is Emino, a popular Tunisian rapper who allegedly joined the ranks of IS on 18 March, 2015.

The rapper "changed" after spending two years in prison for possession of cannabis, France24 quoted his lawyer as saying. This change came as a surprise to many of his fans - who said that the rapper had a lifestyle which largely consisted of drinking, smoking and womanising.

A photo allegedly posted by Douiri showed him in Raqqa in front of an IS flag.

4. Sally Jones: A British national now known as Umm Hussein al-Britani was the lead guitarist in an all-girl rock band named Krunch during the early 1990s.

Jones is thought to have married British computer hacker-turned jihadi Junaid Hussain, who travelled with Bary to Syria to join IS and died in a US airstrike near Raqqa in September.

After the former rocker's husband was killed she wrote on Twitter: "I'm proud my husband was killed by the biggest enemy of Allah [...] I will never love anyone but him."

5. Maher Mishal: The Saudi Islamic chant singer joined IS in April 2014. Mishal encourages young Saudis to join IS through jihadi propaganda songs.

6. Douglas McCain: A US national and aspiring rapper who loved basketball, McCain joined the Nusra Front - al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise - early in 2014, and later hooked up with IS.

He was killed during fighting between the two groups and was reported to be the first US citizen to be killed while fighting for IS.