We have seen in the Boston bombings case how terrorists depend on a network of sympathizers. But the Russian connection remains a mystery. The press should follow up on the Russian angle to the Islamic terrorist bombers story before President Obama gets carried away with cooperating with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The assumption by the media that the former KGB officer is genuinely interested in helping the U.S. solve its Islamic terrorism problem should be subjected to scrutiny. After all, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been identified by KGB defectors as a Russian agent. Former PLO chief Yasser Arafat and the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal, who converted to Islam and is in prison in France, were also identified as KGB agents. Putin doesn’t have clean hands in this dirty business.
The FBI’s addition of convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, to the “Most Wanted Terrorists List,” is an extraordinary development that reminds us of how the old Soviet client state of Cuba played a significant role in the Soviet-sponsored terrorist networks of the 1970s and 1980s. She killed New Jersey State Policeman Werner Foerster in 1973, escaped from prison in 1979, and fled to Cuba, with the help of the Cuban-backed Weather Underground. She has stayed there ever since.
At a news conference on Thursday, the FBI and New Jersey State Police said Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army, is still associated with international terrorist networks from her base in Cuba, and that she has supporters and contacts in the U.S.
In a press release attacking the FBI, a group called the Center for Constitutional rights (CCR) asked, “Should the many who support Assata Shakur now expect to be targeted for providing her ‘material support?’” The question is a serious one. It is against the law to harbor a fugitive. In the United States, it is also against the law to provide material support to terrorists, with “material support” defined as including expert advice or assistance and communications equipment. This is why the CCR is concerned about her designation as a Most Wanted Terrorist. The CRR, funded by George Soros, is part of the “Hands off Assata Shakur!” movement which wants to protect Chesimard’s status as a fugitive cop-killer living in Communist Cuba. In effect, they are supporting a terrorist.
To understand how the law works, consider that Lynne Stewart was convicted of providing illegal support to a client, terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. She is now serving 10 years in prison. Her legal defense was underwritten in part by the Open Society Institute of George Soros.
Amy Goodman of the far-left “Democracy Now!” radio/TV show featured one of Chesimard’s lawyers, Lennox Hinds, and former Communist Party USA official Angela Davis, denouncing the FBI for adding Chesimard to the “Most Wanted Terrorists List.” Hinds expressed the fear that Chesimard could be snatched from Cuba and returned to the U.S.
Hinds, a professor of criminal justice at Rutgers University, is still an official of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the old Soviet front group. The Center for Constitutional Rights is an offshoot of the National Lawyers Guild, which was officially designated a Communist front and still remains an IADL affiliate. To show their solidarity with the Marxist terror networks that bombed police stations and killed police officers in the 1970s and 1980s, the CCR’s board and staff took out a full-page ad in a “commemorative solidarity booklet” distributed at a memorial service for the dead Communist terrorist Marilyn Buck. It described her as a “fierce warrior, human rights defender and fighter for justice.”
Buck was a member of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, which carried out a robbery of a Brinks truck in 1981 that killed two policemen and a security guard. Buck had been serving a prison term in California for her involvement in a long list of terrorist crimes. These included the Brinks heist and helping Chesimard escape from prison.
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn also paid tribute to Buck in the “commemorative solidarity booklet.” Several members of the Weather Underground and two Puerto Rican terrorists were at the service in person, paying tribute to their “comrade” and “sister.”
As I wrote at the time, praise for Buck was featured during the memorial service in the form of a recording of Chesimard that was broadcast and said to have been made in Havana. Chesimard said Buck had played a role in her “liberation” from prison. This means, of course, that supporters of Buck—and the organizers of this memorial service—know Chesimard’s whereabouts, or at least how to get in touch with her.
Hence, the “terrorist” designation for Chesimard is a development which has the potential to shed light on the “progressives” who supported the Marxist terrorism that racked the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. As the CCR press release indicates, these leftists are extremely upset that Chesimard has been designated a “terrorist” because it means that support for her activities in Cuba, where she has been granted political asylum, can be designated as criminal activity and investigated by the FBI. It also means they could be put under surveillance.
But such an investigation would be extremely sensitive politically. Just like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn of the communist terrorist Weather Underground became major political players who helped Barack Obama ascend to the U.S. Senate, and then the presidency, the supporters of such groups as the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army did not go away but instead became part of the modern-day progressive movement.
The FBI’s designation of Chesimard as a Most Wanted Terrorist and the doubling of the reward for her capture by the State of New Jersey “is a development that progressives should not ignore,” writes Joseph Lowndes at The Huffington Post, an outlet for far-left material. He says that “the legal and rhetorical framework of terrorism being used in this case strengthens the U.S. state’s ongoing and intensifying campaign to threaten, harass and detain not only Muslims and Arabs, but antiwar, and green activists.” Lowndes, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, is apparently aware that members of the May 19th Communist Organization and various environmental and animal rights groups remain on the FBI “domestic terrorism” fugitives list. He goes on, “We should be asking Attorney General Eric Holder why $2 million is being put up in a 40 year-old case.”
Lowndes expresses the attitude of modern-day progressives and recognizes that the FBI decision to designate Chesimard as a “Most Wanted Terrorist” is a major development. The left is now counting on Holder, who helped arrange presidential pardons for terrorists, and approved Marilyn Buck’s early release from prison, to put obstacles in the way of Chesimard’s apprehension and return.
The FBI must stand its ground, resist any push-back from Holder, and follow the trail that leads to Chesimard and her backers.
In the U.S., the public can help by keeping their eyes open for the fugitive domestic terrorists whose names and photos are on another FBI list. They include Donna Joan Borup and Elizabeth Anna Duke, members of the May 19th Communist Organization; former New Left activist Leo Frederick Burt; and animal rights and “earth rights” activists Joseph Mahmoud Dibe and Josephine Sunshine Overaker.
It would also be helpful if the media publicize these names and faces.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.