US Declares Black Panther Exile Assata Shakur ‘Most Wanted Terrorist’ While Harboring Mass Murderers, Torturers and Rapists
Yesterday the FBI added former Black Panther and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur to its Most Wanted Terrorist list, placing a $2 million reward on her head. Shakur becomes the first woman and the second ‘domestic terrorist’ to make the list.
Shakur, whose birth name is Joanne Chesimard, was also a member of the Black Liberation Army. She was convicted of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a May 2, 1973 shootout in which she was shot twice and one of her comrades was killed. With the help of some of her BLA militants and members of the radical group Weather Underground, Shakur busted out of prison in 1979. She escaped to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum and has remained ever since.
“I am a 20th century escaped slave,” Shakur once wrote. “Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice but to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color.”
To the FBI, Shakur is nothing less than America’s Most Wanted Terrorist.
“While we cannot right the wrongs of the past, we can and will continue to pursue justice no matter how long it takes,” Aaron Ford, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark, New Jersey office, told reporters while announcing Shakur’s ‘most wanted’ status.
Well then, how about pursuing some of the many terrorists who are living in the United States, men who have been granted asylum, immunity or other protections because they took the “right” side during Washington’s myriad worldwide interventions? Assata Shakur was convicted of killing one police officer, and 40 years ago. That’s one too many, of course. But her crime pales in comparison to the horrific atrocities committed by many of the convicted human rights abusers who live freely in the United States.
For brevity’s sake, here’s a list of just six of the scores of human rights violators who the government’s resources would be better spent on bringing to justice. We’ll call them the “Dirty Half Dozen” and rank them in reverse order. Here goes:
#6- Santiago Alvarez: Alvarez is the founder of Alpha 66, a Miami-based anti-Castro domestic terror group that operates a terror training camp in the Florida Everglades. Alpha 66 has been linked to a series of bombings and assassinations in the Miami area during the 1970s, and Alvarez is responsible for a 1971 motorboat strafing attack on a Cuban fishing village that killed two men and wounded four people, including two small children. Alvarez has funded terrorists, including the man who’s ranked #1 on this list. In 2005, federal agents found a weapons cache in Alvarez’s Miami apartment that included machine guns, assault rifles, a grenade launcher and silencers. But Alpha 66 has long been one of Washington’s most favored terrorist groups. Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush count high-ranking members as personal friends, and Alpha 66 leaders have visited the White House. Alvarez ended up serving only two and a half years behind bars for illegal weapons possession. “You can bet your bottom dollar if his name was Mohammed, they wouldn’t be that lenient,” attorney José Pertierra quipped.
#5- Armando Fernández Larios: Fernández was a Chilean officer who participated in the 1973 CIA-backed coup that overthrew democratically-elected President Salvador Allende and replaced him with the brutal dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Fernández was a member of a military unit responsible for the torture and execution of at least 72 political prisoners, the notorious “Caravan of Death.” He also admitted to involvement in the Chilean-sponsored 1976 car-bombing assassination of former Chilean official Orlando Letelier and his American aide, Ronni Moffit, in Washington, DC. Fernández struck a plea deal in the Letelier case allowing him to remain in the United States, where he’d retired. He was later found guilty of torture, crimes against humanity and extrajudicial killing by a Miami jury and ordered to pay $4 million to victims for his actions in the “Caravan of Death.” He lives in Florida.
#4- Emmanuel Constant: Founder of the Haitian FRAPH paramilitary death squad during the 1991-1994 military junta. According to the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), “FRAPH participated in a broad campaign of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention,” as well as a campaign of rape and other sexual violence against women. FRAPH was notorious for collecting and displaying the scalps and faces of its victims. Constant was convicted for his role in the 1994 Raboteau massacre, but was allowed to settle in the United States. That’s partly because the CIA supported FRAPH and counted Constant as a paid asset. When the US government tried to deport Constant, he went on CBS “60 Minutes” and threatened to reveal damaging details of Washington’s shameful role in forming and backing FRAPH. There was no deportation; Constant lives in New York City.
#3- Nicolás Carranza: Col. Carranza was El Salvador’s vice minister of defense from 1979-1981, during which time horrific human rights abuses occurred under his watch. He commanded the National Guard, National Police and Treasury Police, all of which killed, tortured and raped innocent civilians with impunity. In 1980, four American women— three nuns and a church lay worker– were kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered by National Guard troops under Carranza’s command. Most of the high-ranking Salvadoran officers who ordered the murder of the US churchwomen were trained by the US military, and Carranza was a paid CIA informant. In 2005, a federal jury in Memphis found Carranza guilty of killings and torture committed by Salvadoran troops under his command and ordered him to pay $1.5 million each to four of his victims. Carranza, who was granted US citizenship, lives in Tennessee today.
#2- Mohamed Ali Samantar: This former Somali prime minister and defense minister was in charge of brutally crushing a pro-democracy movement during the 1980s. Somali government forces engaged in widespread murder, torture and destruction of property. In June 1988, government troops launched an all-out air and ground assault on Hargeisa, the nation’s second-largest city. More than 5,000 civilians were killed. Samantar has admitted to giving the final order approving this operation. After the government fell in 1991, he moved to the United States. While Samantar was tried for some of his crimes in a US court and ordered to pay $21 million in damages, it now looks like Washington will honor a request by Somalia’s new government to dismiss the lawsuit against him. Samantar lives in Virginia.
#1- Luis Posada Carriles: The Western Hemisphere’s most notorious terrorist. Born in Cuba, Posada fled to the US following the 1959 revolution and immediately took up arms against the Castro regime. He helped plan the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. He then received CIA training in explosives and sabotage and put his skills to use carrying out numerous plots and attacks. The deadliest of these was the 1976 bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed 73 innocent civilians. He was also involved in the Orlando Letelier assassination. In the 1980s, Posada worked as a CIA gunrunner during the infamous Iran-Contra affair. In the 1990s, he was behind a string of hotel bombings targeting foreign tourists in Cuba and over 40 terror bombings in Honduras. Posada eventually settled in Miami, where he and other anti-Castro terrorists like Flight 455 co-mastermind Orlando Bosch were hailed as heroes by their fellow Cuban exiles and Republican leaders like US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Posada was tried– for immigration violations– and acquitted in 2011. He continues to live freely in Florida.
The United States cannot bash the Cuban government for “harboring a terrorist” by providing safe haven for Assata Shakur when Washington allows mass-murderers, torturers, rapists and other extremely unsavory characters– many of them Cuban exile terrorists– to freely reside within our nation’s borders. As is too often the case, hypocrisy reigns supreme in US policy and action. We would do well to remember those wise words of President George W. Bush: “If you harbor terrorists, you are a terrorist.” Too right!
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