KENT, Ohio (WCMH)–The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating Julio Pino, a Kent State associate history professor, for his alleged involvement with the Islamic State.
“Kent State is fully cooperating with the FBI,” KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield told NBC affiliate WKYC.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment,” said Mansfield. “The FBI has assured Kent State that there is no threat to campus.”
An FBI special agent told KentWired, a student-run media outlet on campus, a joint terrorism task force has been investigating Pino for the last year and a half.
The agent said they interviewed several faculty members and more than 20 of Pino’s students Tuesday about his alleged involvement. He is also being investigated for allegedly recruiting students to join ISIS.
Julio Pino has been outspoken and controversial for years. The university denounced him In 2011 when he shouted “death to Israel” during a speech on campus by a former Israeli diplomat.
Emily Mills, editor for the campus newspaper, says she got a surprise visit from FBI agents Tuesday who wanted to talk to her about Pino.
“They said they were investigating him for alleged involvement with the Islamic State and allegedly recruiting students to join,”Mills said.
Mills says she has interviewed Pino in the past about some of his controversial viewpoints.
She sought Pino out for comment again – shortly after her meeting with the FBI. Pino denied being a supporter of the Islamic State and denied recruiting anyone on campus to join.
“I’ve not broken the law,” Pino told KentWired.com. “I don’t advocate anyone else to break the law. So I’ll stand by that statement. I’ve fulfilled my duties as an American citizen by speaking out on issues that some people find controversial.”
Mills says FBI agents told her they interviewed 20 students on campus Tuesday. Pino says no one contacted him.
Pino, a native of Cuba, says he converted to Islam in 2000. He has been an outspoken critic of Israel and supporter of Palestinian causes.
“I follow the law and I advocate that others do that also,” Pino said. “I ask others to respect my freedom of speech as I respect theirs.”