NEWARK, N.J. -- The reward for the capture and return of a fugitive member of a black militant group convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper was doubled to $2 million on Thursday, the 40th anniversary of the bloody gunbattle.
The FBI also announced it has made Joanne Chesimard, now living in Cuba as Assata Shakur, the first woman on its list of most wanted terrorists.
"She continues to flaunt her freedom in the face of this horrific crime," State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said at a news conference Thursday. Fuentes called the case "an open wound" for troopers in New Jersey and around the country.
The Justice Department has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to her capture. The additional money is being put up by the state of New Jersey through civil and criminal forfeiture funds and won't fall on taxpayers, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.
Chesimard, a member of the violent Black Liberation Army, was convicted of the 1973 murder of state trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop. The BLA was responsible for killing more than a dozen police officers in the 1970s and `80s, said agent Aaron Ford of the FBI's Newark division.
According to Fuentes, Foerster and his partner stopped a car carrying Chesimard and two cohorts on the New Jersey Turnpike for a broken tail light. When the troopers approached the car, a gunfight ensued and both troopers were injured. Chesimard then took Foerster's gun and shot him twice in the head as he lay on the ground.
She was convicted in 1977 but escaped from prison in New Jersey in November 1979 with the help of accomplices. She spent the next few years living in safe houses, two of which were in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, before surfacing in Cuba in 1984, Fuentes said.
In Cuba, Chesimard has continued to espouse her anti-U.S. views in speeches advocating "revolution and terrorism" and may have connections to other international terrorist organizations, Ford said.
"She is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution style," he said. "And while we can't right the wrongs of the past, we can and will continue to pursue justice no matter how long it takes."
Chesimard is believed to be one of dozens of American fugitives living in Cuba, many of them one-time members of U.S. militant groups. Cuba doesn't haven an extradition agreement with the U.S. because of the chilly relations between the two countries over the last five decades, but the climate appears to be slowly changing.
In recent years, Cuba has deported some fugitives back to the U.S., including one man convicted of mail fraud and another sought on child pornography charges. This month, the country returned a Florida couple accused in a custody dispute of kidnapping their two children and sailing to Cuba.
The Cuban government had no immediate comment on Thursday's announcement. This week, the State Department said it has no plans to remove Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan. Cuba has denied links to terrorism.
Authorities didn't specify Thursday how they thought the increased reward would surmount the issues between the two countries, but they said they hoped the increased attention would help persuade someone to come forward.
"Our resolve to capture Joanne Chesimard does not diminish with the passage of time," Chiesa said. "Instead, it grows stronger with the knowledge that this killer continues to be free. Our hope is the augmented reward will spur action that will bring Joanne Chesimard back to face the justice she has evaded for far too long."
Also on HuffPost:
JoAnne Chesimard, member of the Black Liberation Army. Polic
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: JoAnne Chesimard, member of the Black Liberation Army. Police wanted poster for Bank Robbery, 17th Robbery Squad, attempted murder 2 members of the police 104th precinct, investigation homicide 2 members of the force 9th precinct, bank robbery, 8th robbery squad, robbery, kidnapping, 13th robbery squad. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Cops using everthing from the most sophisticated gadgets to
UNITED STATES - MAY 03: Cops using everthing from the most sophisticated gadgets to old-fashioned canines crowd side of Jersey Turnpike, where Coston died and JoAnne was captured. Police vehicles pinch traffic to crawl. JoAnne Deborah Chesimard, 25, a fugitive suspect in cop killngs and bank stickups, was caught after gun battle on the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday. She was sounded and a copanion, James Coston, was killed. A second man fled after the battle in which a Jersey trooper was killed and another was wounded only 200 yards from troooper headquarters. Cops had stopped JoAnne and friends for speeding. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
JoAnne Chesimard arrives at Morris County jail in Morristown
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 28: JoAnne Chesimard arrives at Morris County jail in Morristown, N.J. in custody. (Photo by Bill Stahl Jr./NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
JoAnne Chesimard is escorted from Middlesex County Jail.
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 28: JoAnne Chesimard is escorted from Middlesex County Jail. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
In a caravan of eight cars bearing heavily armed state polic
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 29: In a caravan of eight cars bearing heavily armed state police and county officers, JoAnne Chesimard, the reputed 'soul' of the Black Liberation Army, was taken chained handcuffs and leg irons from Riker's Island prison in New York City ot the Middlesex County jail to await trail in the murder of state trooper Werner Foerster. (Photo by Frank Hurley/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Joanne Chesimard is wanted for escaping from prison in Clinton, New Jersey, while serving a life sentence for murder. On May 2, 1973,
Chesimard uses a multitude of aliases, according to the FBI: Assata Shakur, Joanne Byron, Barbara Odoms, Joanne Chesterman, Joan Davis, Justine Henderson, Mary Davis, Pat Chesimard, Jo-Ann Chesimard, Joanne Debra Chesimard, Joanne D. Byron, Joanne D. Chesimard, Joanne Davis, Chesimard Joanne, Ches Chesimard, Sister-Love Chesimard, Joann Debra Byron Chesimard, Joanne Deborah Byron Chesimard, Joan Chesimard, Josephine Henderson, Carolyn Johnson, Carol Brown, "Ches"
Chesimard may be living in Cuba. She may wear her hair in a variety of styles and dress in African tribal clothing, the FBI said on its website.
On November 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984, according to the FBI.
On its website of wanted fugitives, the FBI says it's offering a reward of up to $1,000,000 for information directly leading to the apprehension of Joanne Chesimard.