Accused professor denies alleged links to ISIS


Pino screenshot

Emily Mills

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating Julio Pino, a Kent State associate history professor, for alleged involvement with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

A joint terrorism task force has been investigating Pino for the last year and a half, said an FBI special agent who did not wish to be named for safety reasons.

“There is no direct threat to the university,” the agent said.

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.

Pino said neither the FBI nor Homeland Security has notified him of any sort of investigation.

“From a legal standpoint, I’m not aware that they’re going after me or charging me with anything,” he said. “I’m not aware of any kind of criminal investigation or charges or anything of that sort.”

He also said the university has not contacted him about the investigation.

Pino said all of his activities are legal and he does not support the Islamic State, nor does he discuss the terrorist organization in his classes.

Julio Pino (Full Interview) from on Vimeo.

“I’ve not broken the law,” he said. “I don’t advocate that anyone else break the law, so I’ll stand by that statement that I fulfill my duties as an American citizen by speaking out on issues that some people find controversial, of course, but no, I have not violated any laws that I’m aware of or that anyone has informed me of.”

“Kent State is fully cooperating with the FBI,” said University Spokesman Eric Mansfield. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment.”

Mansfield said he could not comment on whether or not Pino would continue to teach at the university.

“The FBI has assured Kent State that there is no threat to campus,” Mansfield said.

University President Beverly Warren is aware of the investigation, according to the agent.

Undergraduate Student Government Executive Director Brian Cannon said he was shocked by the news of the investigation. 

“I could see it affecting other students in that some of them may not want to go to class if they felt endangered on campus,” he said in an email.

Pino, a Muslim who converted in 2000, said he supports the Palestinians in the Israel-Palestine conflict and said he is outspoken about his viewpoints.

In 2011, he shouted “death to Israel” during a lecture from an Israeli diplomat.

“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. There are some causes, which … some people on campus know I champion, such as the freedom for the Palestinians.”

Pino is teaching two classes this semester: History of Cuba and Central America and a senior seminar in history. He said he plans to continue teaching these classes this semester and will return in the fall semester.

“I’m sure there are stories circulating out there. People may take them with as much of a grain of salt as they want to, but my current status is that I’m a citizen of the United States with all the rights and obligations that entails,” he said. “I follow the law. I advocate that others do so also. And I ask others to respect my freedom of speech as I respect theirs.”

The Kent Police Department charged him with disorderly conduct in 2003. 

Editor’s Note: Kent Stater Editor Emily Mills was among those interviewed by special agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.