On April 8, eight days before the Boston Marathon bombing, 27-year-old Mykyta Panasenko was arrested on a New Jersey Transit train carrying two homemade explosives. Specifically, Panasenko was found on a train leaving Hoboken, New Jersey, and bound for Suffern in upstate New York, carrying two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) consisting of a cylinder filled with Pyrodex, a black powder.
That’s a lot of dangerous materials to be carrying on a commuter train traveling through densely populated areas of northern New Jersey and midtown Manhattan.
Panasenko has been charged with “recklessly creating widespread risk of injury or damage to a building which normally contains 25 or more persons by constructing the explosive devices.” But for all this, as Areej Elahi-Siddiqui points out, there was no mention of Panasenko until last week when the Jersey Journal reported on his hearing at the Central Judicial Processing court on Wednesday. Why hadn’t the Jersey City police reported about him earlier?
Panasenko was not Muslim, dark-skinned or Midde Eastern, and Elahi-Siddiqui asserts that this — not that anyone would admit it — was why his arrest was not reported till after three weeks. Even then, the whole incident “still failed to grab any headlines by the usual fear-mongering news channels.” Panasenko was indeed caught before his explosive devices detonated and no one was hurt. Elahi-Siddiqui comments:
However, both the Underwear Bomber and the Times Square Car-Bomber had made headlines across America — for days, as I can vividly recall — despite the fact that their attempts at terrorizing innocents, too, had been just as unsuccessful. However, unlike Panasenko, they were the kind of terrorists who the media wants you to put a face to.
A native of Kiev, Ukraine, Panasenko lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and works as a mathematician for High 5 Games, which makes games for casinos. Someone who knew him reportedly tipped off authorities. Jersey City Police Deputy Chief, Peter Nalbach, says the Jersey City Policy Department’s Bomb Squad responded to Panasenko’s home after receiving information from the FBI and the NYPD. Materials used to make an explosive device were also found in his home.
Since media reports have appeared, Pashenko has been quoted in the Huffington Post as saying
“I decided, in a pretty foolish idea, to experiment with gunpowder and make little firework type things. I decided to take them to the woods somewhere where no one lives, and watch them explode, for fun – for lack of a better word. Of course this was a bad decision, I do admit that.”
Fireworks being illegal in New York and New Jersey, he could say “bad decision” quite a few times again.
According to a press release from Jersey City authorities provided late on Friday, “There is no indication at this point of the investigation that [Panasenko] intended to detonate a device in his building or on the transit system.” Panasenko was released without bail and now faces serious charges including creating a risk of widespread injury or damage, says Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino.
The Hudson County prosecutor also says that Panasenko “would not have been released without bail if anyone in law enforcement thought he posed a threat to the public.” In the Huffington Post, Panasenko also said that “because of misinformation, I now have to explain to everyone that I have no links to terrorism, which is pretty ridiculous.” Both the county prosecutor and Panasenko are underscoring his having anything to do with being a “threat to the public” (despite carrying explosive substances in public places). Would he have even been able to say the whole incident is “pretty ridiculous” if his circumstances had been different?
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