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Vol. 77/No. 22      June 10, 2013

FBI labels Assata Shakur ‘terrorist,’
part of US campaign against Cuba
The FBI placed former Black Panther Assata Shakur on its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list May 2 — 40 years after she was jailed for allegedly shooting and killing a New Jersey state trooper and 29 years after she was granted political asylum in Cuba.

Washington’s move is aimed at bolstering its ongoing political smear of the Cuban government as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” This is a central pretext for the U.S. rulers’ ceaseless efforts to undermine and overthrow Cuba’s socialist revolution. They will never forgive the workers and farmers 90 miles to their south for taking power from the capitalists, including propertied U.S. families who owned much of the island’s agricultural, mining, industrial, “tourist” and other businesses and grew wealthy off exploiting Cuban labor.

The “Most Wanted Terrorists” list was created by President George W. Bush after al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Shakur is the second U.S. citizen to be added.

Shakur, formerly Joanne Chesimard, was active in the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and later in the Black Liberation Army. On May 2, 1973, the car she was traveling in was stopped by cops on the New Jersey Turnpike and a shootout ensued. Assata Shakur was gravely wounded. The FBI claimed Shakur shot and wounded trooper James Harper and killed trooper Werner Foerster. Her comrade Zayd Shakur was shot and killed by Harper.

At the trial Shakur’s lawyers presented physical evidence that she hadn’t fired a weapon and was shot with her hands in the air. The jury, which didn’t include a single African-American, was instructed that Shakur could be found guilty as a principal based, among other things, on her presence at the scene. In March 1977 she was convicted on eight counts, including first- and second-degree murder for the deaths of Foerster and Zayd Shakur and sentenced to life plus 33 years.

In 1979 Shakur escaped and was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984.

In 1982 Cuba had been added to the U.S. State Department’s “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list, which at the time also included Iraq, Libya, South Yemen and Syria.

Cuba on U.S. ‘terrorist state’ list

The list was established in 1979 by the U.S. administration of James Carter. From the outset it has been nothing more than a tool used by Washington as a pretext for hostile acts against governments that clash with U.S. imperialist interests. The rulers have adjusted its composition accordingly over the years. Such governments are subject to economic sanctions and other punitive measures.

Of the original four “state sponsors of terrorism,” only Syria remains. It is the only country that has spent more time on the list than Cuba.

The People’s Republic of South Yemen was removed in 1990 when it unified with the Yemen Arab Republic, a regime more to the U.S. rulers’ liking.

Iraq was removed in 1982 when Washington aided Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran aimed at overturning the Iranian Revolution. Iraq was placed back on the list in 1990 when the regime invaded Kuwait, a U.S. ally, and again removed in 2004, after Washington overthrew Hussein.

Libya was removed in 2006 after the Moammar Gadafi government dismantled its nuclear weapons program and began sharing intelligence to aid Washington’s “global war against terrorism,” including against al-Qaeda.

The Reagan administration gave no public reason when it designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982. Various government reports at that time and since point to the Cuban government’s support to the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua — which in 1979 overthrew the U.S.-backed military dictatorship there — and to Cuba’s aid to other groups fighting tyrannies in El Salvador and Guatemala.

The State Department has come up with new pretexts over the years, including two it has consistently cited in its annual “Country reports on terrorism.”

One is Havana’s relations with other governments on the list, in particular Iran and North Korea (which was removed amid talks with Washington in 2008).

The second is allowing U.S. fugitives and members of three armed groups designated as terrorist by Washington to live on the island. The groups include the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a Basque independence organization in Spain, as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN), organizations that for decades have engaged in armed conflict with the Colombian government. (The truth is that Cuba is currently hosting and assisting talks in Havana between the FARC and Bogotá seeking to end the conflict.)

While the State Department reports never mention Shakur by name, the 2008 report cited U.S. fugitives who were “members of U.S. militant groups such as the Boricua Popular, or Macheteros, and the Black Liberation Army.”

In more recent years, the “Country reports on terrorism” has pointed to the Cuban government’s refusal to extradite U.S. fugitives, while having the temerity to demand Washington release the Cuban Five and stop harboring Cuban exiles guilty of bombings and other murderous attacks on civilians. This includes, the State Department points out, Cuba’s demand that Washington extradite Luis Posada Carriles. Posada Carriles is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba for the bombing of a Cuban airliner over Barbados in 1976 that killed 73 people, many of them teenage members of the Cuban Olympic fencing team.

In 2005 the State Department criticized Cuba for having “taken no action against al-Qaida.” A subsequent report gave a slightly different twist: “The Cuban government and official media publicly condemned acts of terrorism by al-Qa’ida and affiliates, while at the same time remaining critical of the U.S. approach to combating international terrorism.”

And at several points between 2002 and 2005, Washington even suggested that Cuba’s renowned biotechnology institute — with more than 100 patents, including the world’s first meningitis B vaccine and pioneering cancer drugs — is actually a cover for the production of biological weapons.

This February the Boston Globe floated a story that there is “a growing consensus in policy and intelligence circles” that Cuba be removed from the terrorism list. Not only did the State Department rapidly squash such speculation, but three months later the FBI added Shakur to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list and doubled the reward for her capture to $2 million.
Related articles:
Decades of Cuban rightists’ attacks hit revolution’s backers in US, Puerto Rico:
Fight continues to unearth truth about murder of Carlos Muñiz
Who are the Cuban Five?
‘Every worker should support the Cuban Five’
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