The FBI has been investigating an associate professor at Kent State University for over a year for his alleged ties to Islamic State, it was revealed Jan. 19.
Julio Pino, who teaches history at Kent State, has been accused of supporting ISIS and recruiting students to the terrorist group, media reports say.
The investigation is being led by a joint terrorism task force, but FBI officials refused to provide further information about the ongoing investigation. No criminal charges have been brought against Pino, who firmly denies the allegations.
“From a legal standpoint, I’m not aware that they’re going after me or charging me with anything,” Pino said in an interview with the Kent Stater. “I’m not aware of any kind of criminal investigation or charges or anything of that sort.”
Pino converted to Islam in 2000. He is an outspoken supporter of Palestinian liberation. During a speech by an Israeli diplomat in 2011, he yelled out “Death to Israel.”
“I’ve always been crystal clear about my political views, and I’ve never been charged with any kind of criminal activity nor have I ever tried to impose my political views on anyone, student or non-student,” he said. “I think that everyone on campus knows that, so that’s where I stand. I stand in defense of civil liberties,” Pino added.
The FBI interviewed Pino’s students and other faculty members at the university Jan. 19.
“We are cooperating with the FBI, and we have been assured that there is no indication of a threat to campus. As this is an ongoing investigation, it is not prudent to speak further about the case. We continue to find Julio Pino's comments reprehensible and counter to our core values of civil discourse and respect. As a university, we do not defend his views, and he does not speak on behalf of Kent State or members of our community,” Kent State President Beverly Warren wrote in a statement, according to WOIO.
Responses from students to the FBI investigation were mixed. While some expressed concern about Pino’s alleged links, others were more critical.
“If there isn’t more proper research done on whether he is or is not involved in ISIS, then I feel like it is extremely discriminatory, and ... that the University should not be posting his picture around, embarrassing him in front of his students, (especially) if there is not evidence that shows he is involved in ISIS,” said Raishel Farrier, according to the Kent Stater (2).