On June 21, 2010, American terrorist Dwight Armstrong died of cancer. Who was he and why should we care?
At 3:40 in the morning on August 24, 1970, Dwight Armstrong, Karl Armstrong, David Fine, and Leo Burt parked a stolen van next to Sterling Hall on campus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. They had carefully stuffed it full of 2,000 pounds of fertilizer soaked with ammonium nitrate — a fuel more commonly known as ANFO. They called the police and warned them about the bomb, but the call came too late to be able to clear the building. When the four heard their bomb had exploded they cheered wildly. Sterling Hall was utterly destroyed — dozens of other buildings on campus were damaged.
They called themselves “The New Years Eve Gang,” because on New Year’s Eve in 1969 Karl, his brother Dwight, and a girlfriend stole a single engine plane. Then they flew the plane over the Badger Munitions Plant near Baraboo, Wisconsin and dropped explosives. The attack failed, however, when the bombs did not detonate. The group also launched arson attacks against the ROTC Center on the University of Madison Campus as well as a substation providing power to Badger Munitions. These attacks did not have the history-changing impact that they had hoped for.
It was not until the huge explosion at Sterling Hall that the gang would achieve their malevolent success. Their attack on a Big Ten College Campus in the capitol city of Madison, Wisconsin would be the largest terrorist bomb exploded — up to that point — in U.S. history and would remain so until the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Three of the bombers were UW Madison students and budding journalists. They were writers for the UW Paper, “The Daily Cardinal.” They were all far-left, anti-war radicals. They abandoned their journalistic pursuits, disregarding the words of Edward Bullwer-Lytton, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
David Fassnacht: A Shining Star Snuffed
That fateful night, David Fassnacht had stayed late in his lab inside Sterling Hall to monitor an experiment. He was brilliant man working on a project that promised to have applications in power distribution as well as the development of a high speed trains in the United States. He wanted to complete this particular experiment so he could leave the next day on a vacation with his family.
David Fassnacht was the father of three year old Christopher and new born twin daughters, Heidi and Karin. He was also the loving husband of Stephanie. At the moment of the explosion David Fine, Karl Armstrong Dwight Armstrong and Leo Burt cheered wildly as David Fassnacht, father of three, died.
It is not known how positively Fassnacht’s work on power distribution would have impacted mankind, because the cheering terrorists destroyed the records of Fassnacht’s life’s work as well as ending the scientist’s life. The advancements he had made died with him.
How the Criminal Justice System Handles Terrorists
As the group fled in a vehicle together, they were stopped by police and identified, then released prior to warrants being issued. These stops by patrol officers, who took time to meticulously document the identification of these persons, helped in the investigation that followed.
The first to be captured was Karl, arrested in Toronto, in 1972. He was treated like a hero by the radical left in Madison who scrawled “Free Karl” on walls all over the city. These same people called police officers “pigs” and Vietnam veterans — who were real heroes — much worse. Karl was found guilty of the bombing, and sentenced to 23 years. He was paroled however, after serving just seven years. Karl was able to set up a “Loose Juice” stand on campus just four blocks from the site of the explosion, making a living by selling beverages to college students.
In a 1986 interview Karl was quoted as saying, “I feel it was justified and should have been done.”
David Fine was captured in 1976, tried and sentenced to seven years. Fine was released after three years and ultimately passed the bar exam in Oregon, but was denied a license to practice law.
In 1977 Dwight Armstrong was arrested in Toronto. He pled guilty and was sentenced to seven years. He was released in three. He was arrested again for his part in the delivery of amphetamines. After being released on the drug charges he returned to Madison to drive a cab and partner up with Karl in a restaurant they proudly named the “Radical Rye Deli.”
Using this historical perspective of the sentences served in this case, one could present a very strong argument against bringing foreign terrorists into the civilian criminal justice system for “justice.”
All Points Bulletin for Canada and the United States
Even though Karl, Dwight, and David served minimal time for this horrendous crime, Leo Burt has evaded capture for 40 years. There is still an active warrant for his arrest. This article serves as an all points bulletin for every officer in Canada and the United States to continue the pursuit of Leo Burt and remind every criminal out there that the chase is short lived, but the pursuit ends when the warrant expires.
So every beat cop and investigator from the Florida Keys to Edmonton Canada should take a look at the picture of Leo Burt created by the staff at America’s Most Wanted. When you hit the streets keep an eye out for this wanted American terrorist.
And what about the passing of Dwight Armstrong? Well, if you’re not inclined to pray for mercy on the soul of a terrorist, pray for justice.