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FBI Adds First Woman To Its Most Wanted Terrorists List

The FBI added Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted in the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State Trooper, to its "Most Wanted Terrorist List." Chesimard, who fled to Cuba in 1984 after escaping from prison, is the first woman added to the list.

The FBI said in a release announcing a $2 million reward for information leading to her arrest:

"'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. '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.'

"'This case is just as important today as it was when it happened 40 years ago,' added Mike Rinaldi, a lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police and member of our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Newark. 'Bringing Joanne Chesimard back here to face justice is still a top priority,' he said."

As ABC News reports, supporters of Chesimard "believe she was a target of law enforcement's campaign against the Black Panther movement in the 1960s and 1970s."

The network adds:

"'I was convicted by—I don't even want to call it a trial, it was lynching, by an all-white jury,' Chesimard told BET in 2001. 'I had nothing but contempt for the system of justice under which I was tried.'

"The rapper Common told her story in 'A Song for Assata,' which caused a stir after Michelle Obama invited him to a White House poetry slam two years ago. The piece contains the lyrics 'Your power and pride is beautiful.'"

US News reports that the reward for Chesimard's capture has increased steadily since the original $150,000 was offered. They note that it is unclear "why the FBI is making the renewed effort to capture Chesimard."

Cuba and the United States have no extradition agreement, so Chesimard lives in Cuba freely.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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