Joanne Chesimard, Fugitive Living in Cuba, Named to FBI ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ List By Steven Nelson US News and World Report
Informers stand to gain $2M in the unlikely event Chesimard, convicted of murdering a cop 40 years ago, is caught
Forty years ago today, Joanne Chesimard allegedly shot and killed New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster. She was convicted, but escaped from prison in 1979 and was granted asylum in Cuba, where she has been living since the 1980s. On Thursday, the FBI announced a $2 million reward for her capture and named her to the bureau’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.
“This case is just as important today as it was when it happened 40 years ago,” said Mike Rinaldi, a lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police, in a press release.
Chesimard was a member of the Black Liberation Army, a “radical left wing terror group that felt justified killing law enforcement officers” during the 1970s, Rinaldi said. “This group conducted assaults on police stations and murdered police officers.”
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If an individual provides information leading to her capture they will be eligible for a $1 million reward from the FBI and a $1 million payout from the state of New Jersey. The FBI noted that she is the second “domestic terrorist” to make its most wanted list.
Chesimard’s dramatic escape from prison happened when “armed domestic terrorists gained entry into the facility, neutralized the guards, broke her free, and turned her over to a nearby getaway team,” Rinaldi said.
It’s unclear why the FBI is making the renewed effort to capture Chesimard, who now goes by Assata Shakur and lives freely in Cuba. Without cooperation from the Cuban government, there’s a small chance of capture.
The award for Chesimard’s capture was raised from $150,000 to $1 million in 2005 on the 32nd anniversary of Foerster’s death. A report in the New Jersey Star-Ledger quoted Cuban exiles saying they would spread the word to friends and family remaining in Cuba.
Fidel Castro, Cuba’s longtime leader, defended Chesimard in 2005. “They wanted to portray her as a terrorist, something that was an injustice, a brutality, an infamous lie,” he said in a TV address, according to The Associated Press. Castro handed over power to his brother, Raúl, in 2011.
A Cuban government spokesperson told The Independent in 1998 that with no extradition treaty between Cuba and the U.S. the island nation is not obligated to return Chesimard, who denies killing Foerster.
Chesimard once listed her phone number in Havana’s phone book, The New York Times reported in 2007, but has largely lived under the radar. The Times noted that several other U.S. fugitives are living in Cuba - including fellow black radical Charlie Hill, who killed a policeman and flew a hijacked airplane to Cuba in 1971 with two friends.
——————————Havana Journal Comments——————————
1. Fidel may have made her out to be a saint but hopefully Raul will turn her in. Cuba quickly cooperated to return the two idiot parents who kidnapped their own children recently and Cuba regularly cooperates with the US on drug smuggling.
2. Although Raul should release Alan Gross on humanitarian reasons, the US has allowed convicted Cuban spy Rene Gonzalez to visit Cuba for two weeks while on parole. Lots of unrelated (but maybe related) Cuba issues in the news. This Chesimard story, Rene Gonzalez, Mariela Castro denied a visa to come to the US then approved, Cuba on or off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, Obama says he wants to close Guantanamo… something is going on.
3. If Joanne Chesimard (I won’t call her Assata Shakur because that’s a fake, made up name) wants to claim she is innocent, she has had 40 years to negotiate a retrial. Nope. She is hiding in Cuba. Not for long though with a $2,000,000 price tag on her head. I figure she’ll be back in the US before the end of May.
4. You can read the “Hands off Assata Shakur” website if you want to throw up a little bit in your mouth. Since this organization, The Talking Drum Collective of Stone Mountain Georgia, registered the domain name AssataShakur.com, I am perfectly happy to own Chesimard.com and JoanneChesimard.com. I have pointed both domain names to this page so people can read more about Joanne Chesimard and her guilt, or innocence… depending on your perception of reality.
Time for Joanne to come back to the US to face reality.