Jihadi Cool: Hip hop earns its bad rap

Jihadi John - rapper turned terrorist
Jihadi John - rapper turned terrorist

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2014 — This has not been a good week for the rap music industry. Hip Hop mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was shot six times at a West Hollywood, California nightclub hours before he was to attend MTV’s Video Music Awards.

A day earlier, the British press reported that the man suspected of beheading American photojournalist James Foley might be former London rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, who is said to be known by his fellow Islamic State fighters as “Jihadi John.” The Times of London reports that “MI5 [British intelligence] is now certain of the identity of the British jihadist who appeared in the beheading video posted by … the Islamic State.”

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Bary left his family’s $1 million West London home to join the murderous IS band now conquering large swaths of Iraq.

A 1995 study by the Prevention Research Center, “Music, Substance Use, and Aggression,” noted that “the content of music videos revealed that twice as much violence and criminal activity were depicted in rap … In addition, participants who saw the violent rap videos reported higher probability of committing similar acts of violence.”

In 2004, London-based rappers released a ditty that informed Americans, “Dirty Kuffar [infidels] wherever you are; From Kandahar to Ramallah; OBL [Osama bin Laden] Crew be like a shining star; like the way we destroy them two tower ha ha.” So sang Sheikh Terra as a video of airliners crashing into New York’s Twin Towers played in the background.

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“Terrorist recruiters are also promoting ‘jihadi cool’ by producing rap videos advocating terrorism and releasing them on the Web,” says Jerome P. Bjeloper of the Congressional Research Service. “Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, a charismatic recruiter for al-Shabaab, enticed young Samali men in Minnesota with a jihadi cool message replete with war stories … but also stressed the sense of brotherhood he had experienced while fighting … and reassured his listeners that it was fun and not to be afraid. He further underscored that recruits would get the chance to use firearms,” said Bjeloper.

American-born Daniel Maldonado of Daphne, Alabama joined Somalia’s al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab in 2006. ABC News reported that Maldonado, a.k.a. Abu Mansoor al-Amriki Hammami, was prone to posting “bad hip hop songs” as a jihad recruiting tool on YouTube. He eventually earned a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

But Hammami had a falling out with al-Shabaab’s leadership, and they came gunning for him. He met his end in the desert wastes of Somalia. Like rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in a hail of bullets in the desert city of Las Vegas, Hammami died a victim of his death-cult hubris.

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