MOST WANTED FEMALE TERRORIST ON FBI LIST

NEWARK, N.J.—A former Black Liberation Army member convicted in the murder of a New Jersey trooper is the first woman to be put on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list.

The reward for the capture of Joanne Chesimard, who lives in Cuba, was doubled Thursday to $2 million.

Chesimard, 65, fled to Cuba in the years following her escape from a New Jersey prison in 1979, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said on the 40th anniversary of the trooper’s death.

While there is no new threat from Chesimard, she is considered a “domestic terrorist,” the agency said.

“While living openly and freely in Cuba she continues to maintain and promote her terrorist ideology,” Aaron Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark, N.J., field office, said at a news conference.

Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur, was convicted in 1977 of the murder of Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973.

“Today, on the anniversary of Trooper Werner Foerster’s death, we want the public to know that we will not rest until this fugitive is brought to justice,” Ford said.

Asked if the case was part of a larger discussion with Cuban officials, Ford said he could not comment on behalf of the U.S. government.

He said anyone with information leading to her capture would be eligible for the reward, “whether they are in the United States or abroad.”

Foerster and another trooper stopped Chesimard and two others on the New Jersey Turnpike for a motor vehicle violation and a gunfight broke out, authorities said.

Foerster, along with a passenger in the car with Chesimard, were killed in the gun battle. Foerster had a 3-year-old son, authorities said.

Chesimard and Clark Squire, the driver of the car, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Chesimard had left the Black Panther Party by then and become a member of the Black Liberation Army.

During her trial and imprisonment, Chesimard became a cause among the left, some of whom argued she was a victim of racism and mistreatment.

Attorney Ron Kuby disputed the FBI’s notion that she poses a threat to the U.S.

He said he did not think she got a fair trial and that the U.S. government had been locked in an ongoing battle with black revolutionary movements during the 1970s.

“Let’s not overstate the contours of this,” Kuby told Reuters. “Assata Shakur was the embodiment of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army at a time when there was a low intensity war between black radicals and the U.S.”

She escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Clinton, N.J., with the help of three visitors who were members of radical groups and were carrying hidden weapons, authorities said.

She surfaced in Cuba in 1984, they said.

The reward for her capture was being doubled with the goal of having her returned to the U.S. to serve out her sentence.

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