A Kent State University professor is under investigation for allegedly helping recruit for the Islamic State terror group, but he denies any involvement with ISIS.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are jointly investigating Julio Pino, an associate history professor at the Ohio college. Pino converted to Islam in 2000.
A FBI special agent first told Kent Wired about the investigation, which has been going on for the past year and a half.
The agent said officials have interviewed other professors and more than 20 of Pino’s students about his alleged involvement, which could include recruiting militants for the Islamic State.
Also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, the terror group has been behind a number of attacks across the world, including the Paris and San Bernardino, California, attacks last year.
But Pino denied any involvement with the group.
“I’ve never broken the law. I support no violence or violent organizations,” he told the Beacon Journal.
“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 admitted being outspoken about issues in the Middle East, and said that’s likely why he’s being investigated.
“I can only imagine, given my past record at Kent State dealing with controversial issues about the Middle East, some people may be favorable or unfavorable,” he said. “Rumors start, and that’s the only thing I can think would draw attention from a government agency.”
Emily Mills, editor-in-chief of the Kent Stater student newspaper, said she was one of the students interviewed by the FBI.
“They asked pretty straightforward questions,” she said. “They said they were looking into his alleged ties to the Islamic State. They said it was an ongoing investigation and that they were questioning faculty and other students.”
Pino is known for several incidents when he expressed controversial views, including shouting “death to Isreal” during an Israeli diplomat’s lecture, reported Fox8.
He also wrote a column in 2002 eulogizing an 18-year-old suicide bomber, and in 2014 accused “academic friends” of causing the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians. A posting from him last year also appears to praise Osama bin Laden.