Joanne Chesimard, the Black Liberation Army militant who fled prison for Cuba after being convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, has been added to the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list. The reward for her capture has been doubled, to $2 million.
New Jersey is offering $1 million for information leading to Chesimard's capture, on top of an earlier $1 million reward from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said yesterday, the 40th anniversary of the execution-style killing. The 65-year-old fugitive is the first woman on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list.
"Justice has no expiration date and our resolve to capture Joanne Chesimard does not diminish with the passage of time," Chiesa said in a statement.
Chesimard is believed to be one of dozens of American fugitives living in Cuba, many of them onetime U.S. radicals. The Cuban government had no immediate comment on the FBI announcement. This week, the State Department said it has no plans to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan. Cuba has denied links to terrorism.
Chesimard, born in New York, was a prominent member of the Black Panther Party and later joined the Black Liberation Army, a group that claimed responsibility for killing several police officers in the 1970s, the FBI said on its website. She was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison for killing Trooper Werner Foerster in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Armed radical allies broke her out of a Clinton, N.J., jail in 1979. She went underground before surfacing in Cuba in 1984.
"She attends government functions and her standard of living is higher than most Cubans," Chiesa said.