Cuba was originally placed on the terrorism list in 1982, as punishment for its support of communist insurgencies in places ranging from Nicaragua to Angola. In recent years, it shared a place on that list with just Iran, Sudan, and Syria. (The Bush administration controversially removed North Korea in 2008.) There are some 70 American fugitives from justice living in Cuba today, though not all are terrorists. And while Cuban soldiers may no longer be fighting American-backed proxies in Southern Africa, Cuba remains something of a Star Wars cantina of violent Cold War-era radicals.The most prominent figure in this rogue’s gallery is JoAnne Chesimard AKA Assata Shakur,godmother to the late Tupac Shakur and a distinguished member of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List, where she has the dubious honor of being the first and currently only woman. In 1973, Shakur, then a member of the Black Panther Party, participated in the execution-style killing of a New Jersey State Trooper. In 1979, members of another black radical nationalist group busted her from prison; five years later she resurfaced in Cuba, where she had won political asylum. According to a fellow at New York University’s Center for the United States and the Cold War who has met with her, Shakur lives under the constant watch of Cuban security along with one of her accomplices, Nehanda Abiodun. Though there exists a $2 million bounty for her capture, a Cuban journalist who visited the American interests section in Havana wroteseveral months ago that the FBI Most Wanted sign beseeching her capture is no longer even posted in the building. It’s likely a signal that the Obama administration does not plan to make her extradition a condition for improved relations.Another terrorist assumed to be living large under the protection of the Castro brothers is William Morales, a bomb maker for the Puerto Rican FALN separatist organization. According to the FBI, the group perpetrated over 100 bombings throughout the 1970s and ’80s. In 1978, Morales lost nine fingers when one of his projects blew up prematurely; the following year he was convicted in federal court of possessing illegal explosives and weaponry and sentenced to 89 years in prison. Morales escaped to Mexico, and he is now believed to be hiding in Cuba.Then there’s Charlie Hill, a black power militant involved in the murder of a policeman in 1971. On the run, he and two comrades stole a tow truck at gunpoint, crashed it through the gates onto the runway of Albuquerque airport, and hijacked a TWA plane. Told by the pilots that it could not fly all the way to Africa — where the men originally wanted to flee — they instructed the crew to take them to Cuba instead. “If anything went down, you went to Cuba,” Hill recently told CNN.It is not only American terrorists who find safe haven in Cuba. Over a dozen members of the State Department-listed Basque terrorist group ETA reside on the island, though the Cuban government has repatriated several members back to Spain. Last month, however, the Spanish government requested that the United States try to persuade Cuba to extradite two ETA leaders; it’s difficult to see how that will ever happen now that Washington has surrendered even more leverage to Havana by removing it from the State Department list. Cuba also shelters a number of insurgents associated with the FARC, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization long at war with the Colombian government.
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