From Fidel, with love
In the category of dubious distinctions, a Queens-born citizen has just achieved another first: Joanne Chesimard has just become the first woman to make the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists.
The FBI made the announcement during a press conference with the New Jersey state police. The terror listing should remind us of two things: First, that she killed a cop. And second, that domestic terrorism did not begin with Oklahoma City.
Chesimard was a member of the Black Liberation Army, just one of the many radical organizations from the 1960s and 1970s that unleashed a reign of terror on the United States, specializing in both bombings and police-killings. Forty years ago this week on the New Jersey Turnpike, Chesimard murdered State Trooper Werner Foerster, execution-style, after he pulled over the car she and her accomplices where riding in.
Chesimard was tried, convicted and given a life sentence. But in 1979, she was sprung from a New Jersey prison with the help of accomplices from the BLA and the Weather Underground. After hiding in safe houses, she eventually found her way to Fidel Castro’s Cuba. There she remains, protected by the regime, immune from extradition and hailed by many as a hero.
These days Chesimard goes by the name Assata Shakur (Tupac Shakur, the slain rapper, was her step-nephew). She knew what she was doing when she picked Cuba. For the Castro regime also gave refuge to other US fugitives, including William Morales, who built bombs for the Puerto Rican group that blew up Fraunces Tavern, as well as CIA turncoat Philip Agee.
In other words, in a Cuban prison sits Alan Gross, an American whose crime is to have helped Cubans improve Internet access, while an American cop-killer walks Havana’s streets free as a bird. All worth remembering next time there’s talk about normalizing relations.