Osama’s name flows in our blood: Ex-rapper

International

SOUAD MEKHENNET

The man German security officials call a major security risk looks like a figure from a rap video, especially with the tattoos on his hands. One says "STR8," and the other "Thug."

"This is from the days when I lived the life of an unbeliever," said Denis Mamadou Cuspert, as he clenched his fists and looked at the tattoos. "Allah will erase them from me one day."

Cuspert, once a popular rapper in Germany, is now one of the best-known singers of nasheeds, or Islamic devotional music, in German. Security officials say he is an influential figure who incites violence through inflammatory videos and fiery speeches that praise terrorists and attack the West.

German authorities say people like him inspired the shootings of two American airmen at the Frankfurt airport in March. The 21-year-old man accused of the killings, Arid Uka, whose trial began in Frankfurt on Wednesday, said he opened fire after seeing a video that claimed to show Muslim women being raped by men in US military uniforms. Uka said he was listening on his iPod to nasheeds calling for opposition against occupation forces and the West as he travelled to the airport just before the shootings. "It made me really angry," Uka told the judge.

German terrorism investigators see Cuspert, 35, as a threat who provokes young people angered by what they see as a Western campaign against Islam.

In an interview at a mosque here, Cuspert denied any direct connection to Uka, though he said he supported his actions. "The brother hasn't killed civilians," he said. "He has killed soldiers who had been on their way to kill Muslims."

Cuspert gives speeches all over Germany, and young people are drawn to elements of his personal story, including his membership in Berlin street gangs — he said he used to be a "real bad boy" — and the notion that he finally found the "right way."

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