The FBI have added Joanne Chesimard, better known to many as Assata Shakur, to its Most Wanted Terrorist List. She is the first woman ever to make the list. The State of New Jersey added $1 million to the current $1 million reward offered by the FBI for information leading to her capture.
Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, who was convicted of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.
In 1977 she was convicted of murder and armed robbery. But in 1979 she escaped from prison and disappeared, only to surface later in Cuba.
She received political asylum and has appeared in several documentaries. She claims political prisoner status and has been supported by some artists and activists during her time in exile.
In a statement the FBI describes the crime as a cold-blooded execution:
"On May 2, 1973, Chesimard and a pair of accomplices were stopped by two troopers for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike. At the time, Chesimard—a member of the violent revolutionary activist organization known as the Black Liberation Army—was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery.
Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers. One officer was wounded, and his partner—Trooper Foerster—was shot and killed at point-blank range. One of Chesimard's accomplices was killed in the shoot-out and the other was arrested and remains in jail.
Chesimard fled but was apprehended. In 1977, she was found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and other crimes and was sentenced to life in prison. Less than two years later, she escaped from prison and lived underground before surfacing in Cuba in 1984."
"Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style," said Aaron Ford, special agent in charge of our Newark Division, in the statement.
"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."
Mike Rinaldi, a lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police and member of our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Newark echoed that determination.
"This case is just as important today as it was when it happened 40 years ago," he said.
"Bringing Joanne Chesimard back here to face justice is still a top priority," he said.