Note: Sista Assata is still protected by the Cuban government and people.
She is under a tighter security cover than ever before. The fascist
forces here in the US are getting more desperate and arrogant in their
efforts to "get" Assata- dead or alive. As this procop article finally
admits in the end, this is and has been a very very difficult thing to
pull off inside of Cuba.
But, most importantly, this article is another hype piece cobbled
together to give the impression that the NJ Cops and the US National
Security State are on top of things after nearly 30 years of Assata's
successful escape from an all male maximum security prison back in Nov
1979. 30 years of being embarrassed and exposed as a vulnerable giant
bully by a Black Woman FreedomFighter and her Cuban protectors....
Long Live Assata!
Long Live the Cuban People and their Revolution!
Kelly: Tracking a cop-killer's every move
Monday, March 3, 2008
Convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard may enjoy political sanctuary in
Cuba, but for years she has been secretly monitored by a web of New
Jersey State Police contacts that includes Cuban citizens.
The disclosure by state police investigators of their clandestine
tracking of Chesimard comes as Fidel Castro recently turned over control
of the Communist government to his brother, Raul.
In the wake of the Cuban power shift, state and federal authorities hope
to extradite Chesimard and about 70 U.S. fugitives protected by Cuba.
For New Jersey, the big prize is Chesimard, a gun-toting member of the
militant Black Liberation Army. She was caught after a 1973 turnpike
shootout that killed one state trooper and wounded another -- and left
Chesimard wounded, too.
Chesimard, who changed her name to Assata Shakur, was sentenced to life
in prison for the murder of Trooper Werner Foerster. With the help of
fellow militants, she broke out of a New Jersey women's prison in 1979
and turned up four years later in Cuba -- celebrated as a revolutionary
heroine by Fidel Castro.
In 2005, New Jersey authorities increased the bounty for her capture to
"We are not going away," said state police Lt. Kevin Tormey, the chief
detective on the Chesimard case since 1989.
State police officials have made no secret of their three-decade desire
to catch Chesimard, now 60 and allegedly living in the Havana area. But
this is the first time officials have publicly agreed to describe how
they have spied on New Jersey's most notorious, yet elusive, fugitive.
Tormey and others stress that their monitoring of Chesimard does not
include covert U.S. agents or undercover state troopers on the ground in
Cuba. But their system of contacts nevertheless offers a window into the
murky world of tracking international fugitives and underscores the
tenacity by the state police to bring Chesimard home.
State police say that for a brief time in the mid-1990s, they considered
going beyond just monitoring Chesimard and arranging to kidnap her in
Cuba or lure her to another country where she could be arrested and
returned to New Jersey.
"We explored that but we never moved forward," Tormey said.
For Tormey, 45, and his 37-year-old assistant, state police Detective
Michael Rinaldi, a graduate of Bergen Catholic High School, the Chesimard
case has become a high-tech collection of information ? including
monitoring YouTube, where videos about her have been posted. At the same
time, it's an old-fashioned police case that involves legwork and
personal conversations with sources.
In his 19 years on the case, Tormey has traveled to almost a dozen
nations to interview people who met Chesimard in Cuba or knew about her.
He and Rinaldi also work on the Chesimard case with agents from the FBI's
Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark.
In an interview at his office in the intelligence division of state
police headquarters in West Trenton, Tormey said some of the most
reliable information on Chesimard comes from Cubans who are potentially
risking their lives by cooperating with American law enforcement.
The system of passing the information back to New Jersey is complicated,
Even though the U.S. government restricts travel to Cuba, phone
conversations and e-mails are not as limited. Nonetheless, Tormey said,
most Cuban informants fear calling him directly to talk about Chesimard.
"A lot of them don't want to talk over open lines," Tormey said.
One method, he said, is to pass morsels of information to relatives in
America, who then relay it to the state police. Another is to pass
information to foreign diplomats who then give it to U.S. contacts -- and
then to state police.
Back in West Trenton, Tormey and Rinaldi then try to connect the dot-like
snippets on Chesimard -- her comings and goings and observations on her
health. Some is rumor; some is fact.
What results is a pointillist-like portrait -- with notable holes.
Detectives know, for example, that Cuban authorities are keeping a close
eye on Chesimard now, especially since the reward for her capture was
increased to $1 million. But detectives don't know whether she is under
some sort of house arrest or has to ask authorities before she can go
"She doesn't seem to have the same freedom on the island she once had,"
Before 2005, Chesimard was seen strolling through Havana or driving a
Volkswagen. Her phone number was even listed in a Havana telephone
directory-- under the name Assata Shakur.
Chesimard also reportedly worked as a translator for a radio station. In
some cases, she courted attention from the media ? notably an interview
on a New York television station.
But Tormey said she has not been seen in public as much in recent years.
After the $1 million bounty was announced, Fidel Castro renewed his
support for Chesimard and publicly accused the United States of
portraying her "as a terrorist, something that was an injustice, a
brutality, an infamous lie."
One of the more tantalizing contacts, Tormey said, involved a secret
operative in Cuba who was working with U.S. authorities to spy on Robert
Vesco, a Boonton Township embezzler who fled America in 1970s after
contributing to President Richard Nixon's reelection in the hope of
shutting down a federal investigation of his finances.
After living in Costa Rica and the Bahamas, Vesco was granted
"humanitarian refuge" in Cuba in 1982 and reportedly placed under the
personal protection of Fidel Castro -- a status Chesimard received, too.
By the mid-1990s, Vesco fell out of favor with Cuban authorities and was
eventually jailed in a fraudulent scheme to make an alleged miracle drug
for such ailments as cancer and arthritis.
With Vesco in prison, the undercover Cuban operative working with U.S.
federal agents contacted the state police about Chesimard.
"We started talking to this guy," said Tormey, who declined to say
whether the operative was a Cuban citizen -- or where he is now.
But plans never went beyond the talking phase.
Tormey said he hopes Raul Castro will revoke Chesimard's protected status
and send her back to New Jersey. But he has no illusions that will happen
"It's been a roller-coaster ride," he says. "But there is still a hole in
the state police. We want to bring her in."
Read Mike Kelly's blog at northjersey.com/freshjersey.