WASHINGTON – A 65-year-old American woman and member of the Black Liberation Army was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List Thursday, the first woman to appear on the list.
An organized group of gunmen freed Joanne Chesimard from a New Jersey prison in 1979, where she was serving a life sentence for murder in the shooting death of a state trooper, according to the FBI. Chesimard is now believed to be living in Cuba.
The FBI and the New Jersey State Police Department announced Chesimard’s addition to the list Thursday morning, 40 years after she and two accomplices wielding semiautomatic handguns exchanged fire with police after being pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Chesimard and Clark Squire were found guilty of murder for shooting Trooper Werner Foerster on the side of the road with his service weapon after he was injured in the initial fire, according to the FBI.
“This crime was always considered an act of domestic terrorism,” Mike Rinaldi, said New Jersey State Police lieutenant and member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark.
The Black Liberation Army was a radical left wing group that killed several police officers in the 1970s.
Chesimard’s escape from prison was “well planned,” Rinaldi said. “Armed domestic terrorists gained entry into the facility, neutralized the guards, broke her free, and turned her over to a nearby getaway team.”
She surfaced in 1984 in Cuba, where she was granted asylum and where “her standard of living is higher than most Cubans',” the release states.
In addition to being the only woman on the list, Chesimard is only the second U.S. citizen to be added to the list.