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Newest 'Most Wanted Terrorist': Should Assata Shakur make the list?

Fugitive Assata Shakur is the first woman named to FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. A member of a black militant group, she was convicted of the 1973 murder of a New Jersey trooper. But some say the 'terrorist' label doesn't stick.

By Staff writer / May 3, 2013

Assata Shakur – formerly known as Joanne Chesimard – was convicted in 1973 of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. She escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba.

New Jersey State Police/AP/File

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The FBI has added the first woman to its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, Joanne Chesimard, who is currently living in Cuba under the name Assata Shakur.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Ms. Chesimard/Shakur is a fugitive member of a black militant group convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper by the side of a roadway on May 2, 1973. Sentenced to prison in 1977, she escaped in November 1979. Eventually she made her way to Cuba, where the Castro regime has sheltered her ever since, claiming she is a victim of racial persecution.

Cuba has declined repeated US requests to extradite her. On Thursday, the FBI and New Jersey law enforcement officials announced that they have doubled the reward for her capture and return to $2 million.

“She continues to flaunt her freedom in the face of this horrific crime," said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes at a news conference.

The FBI “Most Wanted Terrorist” list is an offshoot of the venerable “Most Wanted” list, and something of a younger brother. It was first drawn up and published in late 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. At that time it contained the names of 22 men, mostly Middle Eastern, who had been indicted by federal grand juries on charges connected to terrorist attacks ranging from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the 1996 attack on a US military residential tower in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was No. 1. He was the only person on the 2001 terrorist list who was already a “Most Wanted” – in his case, due to his involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa.

Alleged terrorists remain on the list “until such time as the charges are dropped or when credible physical evidence is obtained, which proves with 100 percent accuracy, that they are deceased,” says the FBI.

Needless to say, Mr. bin Laden is no longer listed.

Today the list has 32 names. The majority are Middle Easterners, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former bin Laden associate and current listed head of Al Qaeda.

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