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Cops Hope Cuba Thaw Will Lead to Capture of Fugitive Joanne Chesimard

Joanne Chesimard is the woman on the FBI list of most wanted terrorists.

Police in New Jersey hope the thaw in American relations with Cuba will lead to the capture of a notorious fugitive — a 1970s black radical who was convicted of shooting a trooper to death, escaped prison and fled to the island.

Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, fled to Cuba after busting out of prison in 1979 with the help of accomplices from the Black Liberation Army and the left-wing radical group Weather Underground.

She was convicted in the 1973 shooting death of Trooper Werner Foerster, who had stopped Chesimard and two associates. He was finished off with his own gun. The FBI says Chesimard’s gun was found at his side. Last year, the bureau made her the first woman on its list of most wanted terrorists.

Authorities in New Jersey have tried and failed to extradite Chesimard, but they hope their luck might change with a new era of openness between the two countries. There is a $2 million reward for Chesimard’s capture.

“We stand by the reward money and hope that the total of $2 million will prompt fresh information in the light of this altered international relationship,” the New Jersey State Police said in a statement Wednesday.


— Erin McClam