Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Hiding in Cuba, fugitive Joanne Chesimard remains a terrorist thug

    Posted on Thursday, 05.09.13

    Hiding in Cuba, fugitive Joanne Chesimard remains a terrorist thug

    On May 2, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made history
    by naming the first woman — Joanne Deborah Chesimard — to its Most
    Wanted Terrorist list. This distinction puts Chesimard in fitting
    company and includes a $2 million reward for information leading to her
    arrest. It is high time that Chesimard pay for the heinous crimes she

    The facts of the case illustrate the chilling nature of her crimes.
    Forty years ago, on May 2, 1973, two New Jersey State Troopers, Werner
    Foerster and James Harper, made a routine traffic stop on the New Jersey
    Turnpike near East Brunswick. After Foerster asked the vehicle’s driver
    to get out of the car, one of the passengers, Joanne Chesimard, pulled
    out a gun and began shooting. In the ensuing firefight, Chesimard and
    her accomplices hit Foerster twice in the chest and twice in the head —
    execution-style, with his own weapon — and Harper was hit once in the

    Chesimard — a member of the terrorist group Black Liberation Army and
    already a wanted fugitive for felony bank robbery — was quickly
    apprehended, convicted on eight charges and sentenced to life in prison.
    Two years into her sentence, Chesimard escaped from a New Jersey prison
    and spent several years on the run. In 1984, Chesimard resurfaced in
    Cuba and was granted political asylum by Communist dictator Fidel
    Castro. Under the alias Assata Shakur, she began a career as an author
    and activist, living comfortably under Cuban protection.

    Four decades later, Chesimard remains a wanted fugitive, and Cuban
    authorities refuse to cooperate in her extradition. The Castro regime’s
    harboring of a convicted murderer is part and parcel of a deplorable
    record on human rights and the protection of individual freedoms.

    For example, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
    Reconciliation estimates that the number of Cuban political prisoners
    has recently increased, as have short-term detentions and harassment. On
    top of this increase, the Cuban authorities refuse to release American
    contractor Alan Gross from his 15-year prison sentence for providing
    Internet communications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community. These
    facts suggest that the Castro regime still grips tightly to its
    repressive past.

    The harsh reality of life in Cuba continues against an unfortunate
    political backdrop here in the United States. Over the past four years,
    the Obama administration has lifted all restrictions on family travel
    and remittances to the totalitarian state, in addition to significantly
    easing general travel restrictions to the island nation.

    In fact, just recently the administration allowed Jay-Z and Beyonce to
    visit the island for an educational and cultural exchange. It is
    baffling that the administration would choose to legitimize the Castro
    regime through cultural exchange of high-profile American entertainers —
    and all the while the regime provides refuge to a convicted murderer.

    It is my hope that the Cuban people can be free and that our nations may
    normalize relations. The extradition of Joanne Chesimard should be one
    of the first steps in the reconciliation process. Chesimard’s case is
    not a matter of degrees, shades of gray or some vague middle ground.
    Chesimard’s case is matter of fact: She was fairly tried and duly
    convicted. This is not an instance of political repression, but of
    criminal justice.

    Chesimard is a terrorist thug who took the life of Werner Foerster, a
    beloved husband, father, friend and colleague, in cold blood. It is my
    hope that the FBI’s renewed attention to this case will finally bring
    Joanne Chesimard to justice. Werner Foerster’s family, friends, and
    colleagues have already waited four decades too long, and continued
    delay is not acceptable.

    U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett is the congressman for the 5th Congressional
    District of New Jersey, serving since 2003. He is a Republican.