Tag Archives: Joanne Chesimard

Christie renews call for cop killer’s return from Cuba

Joanne Chesimard


Now that a friend and fellow Republican is leading the country, Gov. Chris Christie is urging the White House to demand the return of a convicted cop-killer who fled to Cuba four decades ago.

Joanne Chesimard, a leader of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted on March 25, 1977, of eight counts of murder, robbery and assault in the killing of State Trooper Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. Six years later, in 1979, Chesimard escaped and fled to Cuba, where she has lived in political asylum since. She now goes by the name Assata Shakur.

In 2015, when then-President Barack Obama reopened relations between the United States and Cuba, there was hope that Chesimard would be returned to finish her life sentence. But she remains free today, even though the Obama administration said her return would be part of diplomatic negotiations with the communist regime.

Appearing Friday night on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Christie said “it’s outrageous” that Chesimard lives in freedom, and he pressed the administration of President Donald Trump to fight for her extradition to the U.S.

“I hope that what the Trump Administration is going to do is, before we take any further steps with a relationship with Cuba, that they say, ‘Listen, first and foremost, return this fugitive from justice back to New Jersey so that she can rightfully serve the rest of her term for murdering a police officer,'” said Christie, a friend and supporter of Trump. “I think this is something that Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson and others in the Trump Administration should make a top priority in any dealings they have with Cuba,” Christie added.

Christie’s interview with Carlson was brief, about five minutes. But he confirmed what many lawmakers and intelligence officials have already said over the last few weeks about Trump’s claims that Obama wiretapped his phones.

“There certainly doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that at this point,” Christie, a former federal prosecutor, said. He added, “We’ll continue to listen, but I can tell you from my experience that kind of stuff is really difficult to get.”

Christie also declined to indulge in speculation, stoked by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, that he could end up with a job in the White House someday. His term as governor ends in January.

“Will I ever go work there? I have no idea,” Christie said. “I don’t have a crystal ball.”

Joanne Chesimard

Will President Trump Force Cuba to Return Convicted Cop Killer Assata Shakur?



In the wake of dictator Fidel Castro’s death, President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to reverse President Obama’s executive order “normalizing” relations between the United States and Cuba.

When Obama issued the order in December 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asked for the return of Black Panther and convicted cop killer Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard. Shakur has been living in Cuba for three decades after killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. She was convicted of murder in 1977, escaped prison and in 1984, fled to Cuba. She is on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.

“I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government,” Christie wrote to Obama at the time. “If, as you assert, Cuba is serious about embracing democratic principles then this action would be an essential first step.”

The Cuban government responded to Christie’s request by saying they have the right to protect politically persecuted people inside their country and refused to turn over Shakur. Obama didn’t ask for her return as part of normalization, despite requests from a number of law enforcement organizations.

Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign yet that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America’s most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral ties.

Chesimard was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunbattle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Asked if returning fugitives was open to negotiation, Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press that “every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted. … That’s a legitimate right.”
The question now becomes whether the return of Shakur will be included in Trump’s better deal for Americans when it comes to Cuba. It should be noted the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Cuba, making the task more difficult.

Obama could agree to trade Cuban spy for a convicted cop killer hiding in Cuba


NBC News

Cuba and the United States are discussing possible exchanges of prisoners, including the release of a woman considered one of the most damaging spies in recent history, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The discussions, said to be in their early stages, are part of efforts by the two countries toward normalization of diplomatic relations.

Among the names floated by Cuban leaders, officials say, is Ana Montes, convicted in 2002 of spying for the Cuban government for nearly two decades while working for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

Her espionage compromised many aspects of America’s efforts to spy on Cuba, “calling into question the reliability of all U.S. intelligence collected against Cuba,” according to Michelle Van Cleave, a former national counterintelligence executive.

While at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Montes became the top Cuban analyst. Investigators said she memorized classified information on the job, typed it on a laptop computer in the evenings at her apartment, stored it in coded form on disks, and passed the information to her Cuban handlers.

Montes was sentenced to 25 years in prison and is due to be released in 2023.

For their part, American officials say the U.S. is interested in getting back Americans who sought refuge in Cuba from U.S. prosecution.

“Cuba has been a haven for U.S. fugitives,” said one federal law enforcement official.

Among those U.S. officials would like back is Joanne Chesimard, who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1979 where she was serving a life sentence for killing a state trooper by shooting him with his own gun at a traffic stop.

The State Department declined to discuss specifics. But a spokesman said, “The United States continues to seek the return from Cuba of fugitives from U.S. justice. The Department repeatedly raises fugitive cases with the Cuban government and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity.”

“I don’t think the idea of a prisoner exchange is surprising,” author David Wise, who has written several books about espionage cases, said. “We’ve swapped with the Russians since the early days of the Cold War. It’s by no means unprecedented.”

Will Obama Demand Cuba Hand Over Fugitive Cop-Killer?

New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, who was killed during a stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973
New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, who was killed during a stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973

NBC News

White House officials would not tell NBC News Friday whether President Obama will raise the issue of 70 fugitives from U.S. justice — including convicted cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard — who are hiding in Cuba when he meets Cuban leaders during his upcoming historic visit to the island.

A White House official did say, however, that the “United States continued to seek the return from Cuba of fugitives from U.S. justice and has repeatedly raised those cases with the Cuban government.”

Chesimard, who fled to Cuba in 1984 after escaping from a New Jersey prison in 1979, was convicted of the 1973 execution-style murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. She is on the FBI’s Most Wanted International Terrorists list, and is the most notorious of a group of criminals and violent radicals who have sought refuge in Cuba since Fidel Castro took power.

Other fugitives include Willie Morales, who blew off his own hands while making bombs for a Puerto Rican independence group, and Victor Manuel Gerena, the alleged “inside man” in a $7 million armored car robbery.

The New Jersey State Police and the FBI have offered a $2 million reward for the capture of Chesimard. The Foerster family declined to comment, but Col. Rick Fuentes, the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said his agency feels Foerster’s murder and Chesimard’s escape on a “very personal level.”

“She flew from justice,” he said, “and that reopened a wound that was created by the original homicide. We can’t and we won’t create the impression that once you flee the country that we’re going to stop looking for you.”

JoAnne Chesimard was born JoAnne Byron in New York in 1947. She grew up in New York City and North Carolina, and became involved in black nationalist politics in the late 1960s. She became a Black Panther, then left the Panthers, changed her name to Assata Shakur, and joined the Black Liberation Army.

She was shot in the stomach in 1971 when she allegedly tried to rob a guest at a Manhattan hotel. She was sought for questioning after a bank robbery later that year, and named as a suspect in a grenade attack on police in December. She was also wanted for questioning after the wounding of a police officer, a bank robbery and a church robbery in 1972, and was suspected of links to the murders of several New York police officers. She was later acquitted of kidnaping and robbery charges, while other charges were dismissed.

Continue reading Will Obama Demand Cuba Hand Over Fugitive Cop-Killer?

N.J. State Police: ‘Going to Cuba? Watch out for cop killers’



Highlighting lingering tensions in the United States’ fraught relationship with Cuba, the head of the New Jersey State Police on Thursday released a video warning potential tourists to be on the lookout for terrorists the island nation is harboring.

“As a matter of public safety, I believe that all those considering travel to Cuba need to be aware that four dangerous fugitive terrorists are living free and protected on the island,” Fuentes said.

The message, tied to President Barack Obama’s planned trip to Cuba, is the latest effort in Fuentes’ campaign for the return of Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted for the 1973 killing of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster but later escaped prison and fled to Cuba.

Fuentes said that Chesimard — along with other wanted fugitives Charles Hill, William Guillermo Morales and Victor Manuel Gerena — were collectively tied to groups responsible for “the deaths of 17 police officers, five American civilians, two members of the U.S. military and a string of 159 bombings.”

In a sternly-worded editorial published in the Miami Herald, Fuentes also warned of wanted terrorists who “roam the island freely and are still dangerous revolutionaries, disenchanted about all things American.”

“Tourists to Cuba, please be careful,” the colonel wrote. “You are not dignitaries with security teams, or part of a pampered and propagandized political delegation fattened and flattered by the type of cuisine and accommodations most Cubans can only dream about.”

Chesimard, who goes by Assata Shakur and holds asylum status in Cuba, is also featured prominently on an advisory message posted on the State Police website this week warning would-be visitors that Cuba is home to several people wanted by the FBI.

Chesimard is New Jersey’s most wanted fugitive, with a $2 million bounty offered for information leading to her capture.

The message came as Obama is preparing for an historic visit to Cuba on March 21-22, as the two countries seek to restore diplomatic relations.

News of Obama’s visit drew sharp criticism from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, the two Cuban-Americans in New Jersey’s congressional delegation, who oppose the Obama administration’s discussions with the regime of brothers Raul and Fidel Castro.

Fuentes, Menendez and Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, have all called for Chesimard’s return to the U.S. as part of the negotiations to resume travel and trade with Cuba.

Supporters of Chesimard, who have long maintained her innocence, claims she was set up and did not fire the shots that killed Foerster. She has maintained renown while in exile in some circles, where she is considered an escaped political prisoner from the black nationalist movement.

Meet the fugitive US terrorists sheltered by Cuba

Joanne Chesimard
Joanne Chesimard

New York Post

President Obama is going to Cuba next week, the first official state visit by a sitting president in more than 80 years.

It’ll surely be followed by regularly scheduled domestic airline and cruise-ship service, rock concerts, major sporting events, US corporate investment and thousands of American tourists curious to see Marxism up close and how an entire country can be reduced to an underclass.

avana is where most of the tourists will likely travel. There’s a sprinkling of four- and five-star hotels along the scenic port and bay of Havana, several of which have at their backs the barrios of the Old City and Centro Habana.

There is something beautiful and rustic about the panorama of poverty when it is viewed from the upper floors of a luxury hotel.

But Americans, beware. Unlike the president and his entourage, you aren’t dignitaries with security teams, or part of a pampered and propagandized political delegation fattened and flattered by the type of cuisine and accommodations most Cubans can only dream about.

I’m not saying that the jittery Cuban military and police aren’t interested in your movements on the island — in fact, they surely are — but you’ll have no visible escorts or other functional layers of protection.

You also should know that some of America’s most wanted terrorists are living openly in Cuba. These still-dangerous revolutionaries roam the island, disenchanted about all things American.

It’s highly unlikely that the Cuban landscape will be swept of their presence before your arrival because US government negotiators, speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, seem to lack both the will and intent to press the Castro brothers for their return to the United States to answer for their crimes.

Make no mistake, however, about the will and intent of Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey State Police to continue to advocate strongly against their privileged and coddled status of political asylum.

Four of them — Joanne Chesimard, William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena and Charles Hill — hail from US-based domestic terror organizations whose violent track record includes bringing about the deaths of 17 police officers, five American civilians and two members of the US military, as well as perpetrating a string of 159 bombings that have destroyed the lives and families of many more.

Gerena remains on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list, and Chesimard holds the distinction of being the only woman on the photo spread of the FBI’s Most Wanted International Terrorists list.

The FBI and the state of New Jersey continue to pledge a $2 million reward for Chesimard’s return to prison for her conviction in the murder of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.

My connection to Foerster’s murder by Chesimard and several accomplices runs the breadth of my career.

From the time of her escape from a New Jersey prison on Nov. 2, 1979, to my deeper investigative involvement in her flight from justice while assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the mid-’80s and into my current role as colonel and superintendent, the New Jersey State Police and I have never lost the determination to see her returned to prison.

For your safety, before you depart for your long-awaited Cuban vacation, please visit the New Jersey State Police website at njsp.org. You’ll find the most updated photographs of these four terrorist fugitives accompanied by a short bio from the FBI.

If your walk about the island crosses the path of any of these coddled criminals, I’d ask you to immediately report their sighting to the US Embassy in Havana. At all hours, the embassy can be reached at (53)(7)839-4100, a handy number to keep in your pocket to mitigate many of the unforeseen perils of travel to Cuba.

Fugitive police killer complicates Cuba travel



A New Jersey state police group is urging the Transportation Department not to resume scheduled airline flights to Cuba until a fugitive convicted of killing a trooper with a $1 million reward on her head is returned to U.S. prison from Cuba.

The department is collecting airline proposals and comment about restoring scheduled flights to the island for the first time since 1963. But the president of the State Troopers Fraternal Organization of New Jersey, Christopher Burgos, opposed the move in a letter Feb. 17 until dozens of fugitives are returned to justice in the U.S.

“We strongly oppose any request or approval of United Airlines or any other airline a permit to NJ Port Authority airports to fly back and forth to a country such as Cuba, that has openly slapped all Americans in the face with their policy of keeping U.S. fugitives away and safe from the reach of U.S. justice,” Burgos wrote.

He was referring to Joanne Chesimard, who is also known as Assata Shakur, was convicted in 1977 of killing Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973, during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

At the time of the traffic stop, Chesimard, who was a member of the Black Liberation Army, was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery, according to the FBI. She and accomplices opened fire on the troopers, wounding one and killing Foerster at point-blank range, according to the FBI.

Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison, but she escaped in 1979, according to the FBI.

She was spotted in Cuba in 1984 and is presumed to be still living there, according to the FBI, which has a $1 million reward for her as one of the country’s most wanted terrorists.

The House and Senate each unanimously passed resolutions in 1998 calling on Cuba to return Chesimard to U.S. prison.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrote President Obama a letter Dec. 18, 2014, urging Obama to insist on Chesimard’s return before restoring diplomatic relations. Christie called Cuba’s safe harbor to a convicted killer of a police officer an affront to every resident of New Jersey.

Other fugitives from the U.S. thought to be living in Cuba include:

— Victor Manuel Gerena, who the FBI put on its most-wanted list with a $1 million reward in connection with the armed robbery of $7 million in 1983 from a Connecticut security firm.

— Cheri Laverne Dalton, also known as Nehanda Abiodum, who is wanted by the FBI with a $100,000 reward on charges for an armored-car robbery in 1981 that resulted in the loss of $1.6 million and the deaths of two police officers and a security guard.

— William “Guillermo” Morales, who is wanted by the FBI with a $100,000 reward for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on charges he was a bomb-maker for a Puerto Rican independence group.

Since December 2014, the U.S. and Cuba have each opened embassies in each other’s countries. Business links have been growing. Obama plans a visit March 21 and 22.

The White House said the return of fugitives from Cuba is a long-standing concern that will be addressed in the broader context of normalizing relations between the countries. Officials from the two countries held a law-enforcement dialogue Nov. 9 in Washington and more meetings are expected during the first half of this year. The U.S. continues to seek the return of fugitives and repeatedly raised those concerns with the Cuban government, the White House said.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed an agreement Feb. 16 with his Cuban counterpart to allow up to 110 daily flights from the U.S. to Cuba. The scheduled flights could begin as early as fall, after the department reviews proposals from rival airlines for 20 slots in Havana and 10 slots in each of nine other cities. Applications are due by March 2.