The U.S. has designated a German citizen as a global terrorist for fighting for the Islamic State.

The State Department says Denis Cuspert joined the militants in 2012, appearing in numerous propaganda videos. In one from November, the 39-year-old from Berlin holds the head of a man he claimed was executed for opposing the group.

Designating a European citizen as a "global terrorist" is rare. Monday's announcement coincided with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Washington.

The action bans Americans from doing business with Cuspert and blocks any U.S. assets he has. The United Nations put him on its global blacklist.

The State Department said Cuspert, who now identifies himself as Abu Talha al-Almani, recruits German speakers for Islamic State. Germany wants him on suspicion of terrorism at home.