UPDATE: According to a press release from Jersey City authorities released 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."
A little over a week before three people were killed and more than 260 people were injured in the devastating Boston Marathon bombing, a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey, Mykyta Panasenko, 27, had been arrested for carrying two homemade explosives on a New Jersey Transit train.
Somehow, the arrest, which was made eight days ago, was not reported by the authorities. The Jersey Journal had only learned about the incident when Panasenko appeared in Central Judicial Processing court to hear his charges on Wednesday. But even after they had reported the incident, it still failed to grab any headlines by the usual fear-mongering news channels, and the reason for that is simple — Panasenko isn’t brown or dark-skinned, he wasn’t Middle Eastern and he wasn’t Muslim — revealing the media's blatant hypocrisy.
In fact, Panasenko was apparently as unsuspecting as they come. According to his Facebook page, the 27 year-old lived in Jersey City but was originally from Kiev, Ukraine. And, from his LinkedIn page, it was found that he attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick and worked at High 5 Games — a company that makes casino games — as a mathematician.
Now, it is fair to say that Panasenko did not make headlines because he was caught before his improvised explosive devices (IEDs) could detonate, and technically, he did not cause any harm. 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.
Aside from being charged with having “two destructive devices, specifically improvised explosive devices (IEDs) constructed from a cylinder containing Pyrodex (black powder)” that he carried onto a train leaving Hoboken, N.J. to Suffern, N.Y. on April 7, Panasenko, according to the criminal complaint, is also 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.”
According to Jersey City Police Deputy Chief, Peter Nalbach, the Jersey City Policy Department’s Bomb Squad had responded to Panasenko’s home after receiving information from the FBI and the NYPD. Once they got to his home, they also found materials that were like used to make an explosive device.
The information regarding Panasenko’s attempted bombing had come from a tip by someone who knows him. However, there is still much information in this case that has yet to be revealed — for example, his motive.
Much to the mainstream media’s chagrin, it is clear from this case that when it comes to terrorism, there is not one face or one stereotype that can be universally applied. Simply put, there is no face to terrorism, and it is time that the media realized it.