The jihadist pauses briefly from his snowball fight to address the camera.
“It’s not a horror movie here,” he says gleefully. Behind him his comrades sling their AK-47s as they laugh in the snowy Syrian grove. “We are not those so-called ‘evil salafists’. We can also have fun.”
The fighter is Denis Cuspert, a German rapper who went by the stage name Deso Dogg until he turned to Islamism and moved to Syria to take up jihad.
Cuspert is the kind of extremist who keeps Western security agents up at night: a charismatic convert who makes terrorism look glamorous and speaks in German as he exhorts fellow Europeans to take up arms.
“Look my dear brothers and sisters, this is jihad,” he shouts, gesturing at the carefree scene around him. “I invite you to join jihad!”
But the Youtube video ends on an unexpected note. Cuspert is lying on the floor, soaked in blood, as others try desperately to resuscitate him. The final frame is of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.
The video was not produced in some terrorist lair but instead at the US State Department in Washington, where filmmakers spliced together the militants’ own footage with scenes of the bloody reality in Syria.