The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the case of Julio Pino, associate history professor at Kent State University, for his alleged ties with ISIS, a spokesman from the university said on Tuesday.
Federal agents interviewed faculty members and more than 20 of Pino’s students on Tuesday about his alleged involvement with ISIS, as well as claims that Pino tried to recruit students to join ISIS.
Pino has been under investigation for a year and a half by a joint terrorism task force for his alleged involvement with the Islamic State, according to Kent Wired. Despite this, he is still teaching this week.
“Kent State is fully cooperating with the FBI,” Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield told WKYC Channel 3 News.
Mansfield stressed that he could not comment on the particulars of the investigation.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment,” he said. “The FBI has assured Kent State that there is no threat to campus.”
Newsnet5 attempted to reach Pino, but his wife answered the door at his home in Kent and told the reporters that he has no comment. Pino denied all involvement with ISIS to a student reporter on campus.
“There is no direct threat to the university,” an FBI special agent who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons said, as quoted by KentWired.com.
According to his Kent State website profile, Pino specializes in Latin American history and the Third World, and his current research project “is a study of nineteenth-century African Muslim slaves and free persons in Brazil.”
A brief interview with Pino by KentWired was posted Tuesday and can be seen below. In the recording, Pino denies any illegal activity.
“Everything that I have done, as far as I know, including what my lawyers have told me is perfectly legal. I have not broken the law. I do not advocate that anyone breaks the law, so I stand by that statement.”
According to Inside Higher Ed, Professor Pino is a highly controversial figure on the campus, and notably disrupted a lecture by an Israeli diplomat by shouting “death to Israel” during the question and answer period in October 2011. During the incident, Pino reportedly also asked the diplomat his justification for taking “blood money” that came from the deaths of Palestinians.
Emily Mills, A KSU senior and editor for the school newspaper Kent Stater, first broke the story when she was approached by federal agents, including agents with the FBI, regarding Pino. Mills was a former student of Pino’s and had written several articles about the professor’s controversial actions on campus. The agents were familiar with her reports.
“I had written a couple articles about Professor Pino a couple semesters ago so they just wanted to see what we had talked about in those interviews and just trying to get more information on him,” Mills said to Newsnet5.
“They interviewed me and from there gave me permission to publish the information,” She also told Fox8.
As of now, Pino is still teaching at KSU because he is a tenured professor, and rules about dismissing someone tenured are very strict even while under FBI investigation.
The FBI has stated that this is currently an ongoing investigation and will not be providing additional information.
— KentWired (@kentwired) January 20, 2016
[AP Photo/Tony Dejak]