Tupac's aunt is America's most wanted female terrorist

 

Los Angeles

A convicted American killer living in Cuba has become the first woman to be named on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.

In 1979, Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), escaped from the US prison where she was serving a life sentence for the murder in 1973 of a New Jersey state trooper.

The FBI and state of New Jersey are offering a $2m (£1.3m) reward for information leading to her capture, which remains unlikely given the absence of a US extradition agreement with its communist neighbour. Up to 70 fugitives from the US are believed to be sheltered by the Cuban government. Chesimard, now 65, is no longer considered a threat, but is listed on the FBI site as a domestic terrorist, only the second US citizen to make the list.

Also known as Assata Shakur, Chesimard is aunt to the late hip-hop star Tupac Shakur. In 2000, another rapper, Common, released “A Song for Assata” after meeting her in Havana; the song became controversial when Michelle Obama invited him to a White House event in 2011.

It not entirely clear why the FBI has added Chesimard to its “Most Wanted” list now, besides its her crime’s 40th anniversary. The list does not necessarily reflect those who pose the most imminent threat to the US; rather it contains names to whom the FBI wishes to draw public attention, thus improving the chances of capture. Alleged paedophile Eric Toth, who replaced Osama bin Laden on the “10 Most Wanted” list, was last month recognised and arrested in Nicaragua.

The icy relations between US law enforcement and Cuba have thawed in recent years, with the government in Havana agreeing to deport a handful of fugitives. But Fidel Castro has personally championed Chesimard, making her extradition almost unthinkable; in 2005, Cuba’s then-president declared, “They wanted to portray her as a terrorist, something that was an injustice, a brutality, an infamous lie.”

The FBI, however, claims Chesimard continues to advocate “revolution and terrorism”. Mike Rinaldi of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force insisted at a press conference: “This case is just as important today as it was when it happened 40 years ago… This is an active investigation and will continue as such until Chesimard is apprehended.”

During the 1970s, the BLA was considered a revolutionary extremist organisation, responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen US police officers. In 1973 Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in crimes including bank robbery. Forty years ago this week, she and two associates were pulled over by a pair of state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike for a broken tail light. They opened fire, wounding one officer, before Chesimard allegedly shot the second, Werner Foerster, at point blank range with his own service weapon, killing him “execution-style”.

In 1977, she was given a life sentence for several crimes including first degree murder. “I don’t even want to call it a trial, it was lynching, by an all-white jury,” Chesimard told the BET TV network in a rare 2001 interview. “I had nothing but contempt for the system of justice under which I was tried.” Two years into her sentence, armed BLA members broke Chesimard out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey. She lived on the run until emerging in Cuba in 1984.

FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist Hitlist

Hakimullah Mehsud

Wanted for alleged involvement in the suicide bombing  of a US military base near Khost, Afghanistan, in 2009, which  killed seven Americans and injured six more. 

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah

Wanted for alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of  US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya,  which killed hundreds.

Daniel Andreas San Diego

The only other American citizen  on the list. Believed  to be a member of the militant Animal Liberation Brigade, he is wanted for alleged involvement in three 2003 bombings in California, all of which caused property damage but no casualties. Vegan.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there