Kent State Professor Calling for ‘Death to Israel’ Under FBI Investigation for Possible ISIS Ties
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating an outspoken antisemitic Ohio educator for his possible involvement with ISIS, the Kent State University student newspaper KentWired reported on Tuesday.
An unidentified FBI special agent said several Kent State faculty members and more than 20 students have been interviewed about tenured associate professor Julio Pino’s alleged involvement with the terrorist organization, as well as allegations that he tried recruiting students to its ranks. The agent told KentWired that a joint terrorism task force has been investigating the history professor for the last year and a half.
The investigation is not Pino’s first brush with the law. The Secret Service admitted in 2009 that it investigated Pino, 50, “as an individual who came to our attention who needed to be interviewed.” It was confirmed two years earlier that Pino wrote for a pro-Al-Qaeda website named Global War, according to The Clarion Project.
In 2002, KentWired published a column by Pinto in which he praised a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber as a martyr. He said the bomber’s actions should be “pronounced ‘justice’ and spelled C-O-U-R-A-G-E.’” He has posted ISIS propaganda photos on his Facebook page, in addition to pictures of Hamas and young boys armed for jihad. He posted one photo of masked, armed Islamists with the caption, “Keep it a secret: that’s me on the left!” He is also part of a Facebook group that calls for the boycott of Israeli products.
Pino has taught at KSU since 1992 and converted to Islam in 2000. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, he penned an open letter calling Israel “the spiritual heir to Nazism” and suggesting that academics who support the Jewish state should be killed. The professor made headlines in 2011 when he shouted “Death to Israel!” during a lecture on campus by former Bedouin Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khaldi, according to The Daily Caller.
Following news of the investigation, Pino denied being an ISIS supporter in an interview with the Ohio-based Akron Beacon Journal.
“I’ve never broken the law. I support no violence or violent organizations,” he said. “One man or one woman’s interpretation of events can be very different from another’s. As they say, ‘Haters gonna hate.’ Truth always prevails, and truth will prevail in this case.”
Pino, who teaches two classes this semester, believes his record at the university involving “controversial issues about the Middle East” may make some people think of him unfavorably. He added, “Rumors start, and that’s the only thing I can think would draw attention from a government agency.”
KentWired quoted the FBI agent insisting that the university faces “no direct threat.” The ongoing investigation into Pino’s alleged ties to ISIS was confirmed by KSU spokesperson Eric Mansfield, who said the university is in full cooperation with the FBI, according to The Daily Caller.