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German IS rapper killed in air strike in Syria: Monitor

Denis Cuspert, who performed as Deso Dogg, had been pronounced dead on a number of occasions in past
Denis Cuspert alias Deso Dogg posing for a photographer in Berlin (AFP)

A German rapper turned Islamic State fighter who reportedly married the FBI translator hired to spy on him has been killed in an air strike in Syria, a US-based monitoring group has said.

Denis Cuspert, who performed under the stage name Deso Dogg, became one of the group's most famous Western fighters, appearing in numerous propaganda videos including one that apparently pictured him with a man's severed head.

The German-Ghanaian was killed on Wednesday during an air strike in the town of Gharanij in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, according to a statement from the pro-IS Wafa' Media Foundation translated into English by the SITE monitoring group.

The militant group also posted eight graphic photographs on the Telegram messaging app that it said were of his bloody corpse, SITE said.

Cuspert's death has been reported before, including by the Pentagon which announced he had been killed in an air strike in Syria in October 2015. It later acknowledged he appeared to have survived the attack.

Militant sources in April 2014 also said Cuspert had been killed in Syria but they later retracted the claim.

US officials have said Cuspert had made threats against former US president Barack Obama and US and German citizens, and had also encouraged Western Muslims to carry out IS-inspired attacks.

Daniela Greene, an FBI translator with "top secret" security clearance, allegedly sneaked off to Syria in June 2014 to marry Cuspert after she grew attracted to the rapper while spying on him, according to US court documents.

Greene, who was arrested on her return to the US less than two months after travelling to Syria, pleaded guilty to "making false statements involving international terrorism" and served a two-year prison sentence.

Greene had been working at the FBI’s Detroit office and investigating the IS recruiter since January 2014.

Six months later she travelled to Turkey, before crossing the border into Syria.

She had told her employers she was going to Germany to visit her parents.

But soon after marrying the rapper, Greene appeared to have second thoughts, emailing a contact: "I really made a mess of things this time."

By August, Greene had left Syria, and managed to get back into the US, where she was arrested.

"It's a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it," John Kirby, a former State Department official told CNN.

The details of the case were kept secret until May 2017, when federal court records were released. Greene is now working in a hotel. 

Greene's lawyer told CNN she is "smart, articulate and obviously naïve". He added that she was "genuinely remorseful" for what she had done.