Why is Assata Shakur on the Most Wanted terrorist list?
BY DAWUD WALID
The FBI’s recent addition of Assata Shakur to the most wanted terrorist list is a reflection of a larger problem relating to federal law enforcement’s domestic anti-terrorism tactics.
Shakur, a former Black Panther and subject of the infamous FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), was convicted of the first-degree murder of a New Jersey State trooper in a controversial 1977 trial. Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba the following year where she continues to reside under the protection of the Castro government.
I’m not arguing here that Shakur received an unfair conviction, nor justifying her prison break. What I am questioning is the motivation for the FBI placing a senior citizen on the Most Wanted terrorist list – a woman who is not implicated in plotting attacks against America. Moreover, I am baffled at the timing given that she’s been in Cuba for over 30 years while posing no eminent threat to our national security.
Yes, the homicide of a police officer is a serious crime. It’s still a stretch to place her on the most wanted terrorist list.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports a surge in right-wing extremist groups since the election of our first black president. Our nation has also seen a number of tragic domestic terrorist attacks – from Joe Stack’s suicide airplane attack on the federal building in Austin, Texas to last year’s mass murder at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. And of course, there was the recent tragedy in Boston in which the FBI was alerted to one of the two suspected perpetrators.
I believe that most Americans want federal law enforcement to place their attention and resources on counterterrorism that will actually make us safer, not giving us the illusion of fighting threats that jeopardize domestic tranquility. I’m even more certain that Americans would not sanction sending drones to Cuba to get Shakur.
Let the FBI and DHS use our tax dollars to prioritize domestic terrorism threats in the proper manner. Placing Shakur at the top of the terrorist list simply isn’t it.