KSU Associate Professor Julio Pino back to class amid controversy

KSU Associate Professor Julio Pino back to class amid controversy
Pino addresses media after returning to class. (Source: WOIO)

KENT, OH (WOIO) - Associate professor, Julio Pino was back teaching on Kent State's campus Thursday, despite an ongoing FBI probe on alleged ties to ISIS.

According to an FBI source, a joint terrorism task force has been investigating Julio Pino for alleged involvement with ISIS. Officials say the associate history professor is accused of recruiting students to join the terrorist group.

Pino walked nonchalantly out of his classroom Thursday afternoon, talking to a student as media flanked him, as if it was any other day. He walked immediately from the classroom to the conference room to speak with the media for two and a half minutes.

"None of these allegations have any foundation whatsoever. I have no ties to any political organization here in the United States or abroad," said Pino. "I have never discussed the politics of Islam, the Islamic state, or any other political organization with the students, with the faculty or with anyone else on campus."

He wouldn't even address the question of if he would resign if students called for it, saying its a speculative question.

When directly asked by Cleveland 19 if he sympathizes with or recruits for ISIS he said an emphatic "absolutely not."

Pino has been on the FBI's radar on this specific topic since 2014.

He's been in the news before, making controversial comments both in person, and online. He yelled "Death to Israel" during a speech by a former Israelidiplomat in 2011. In 2002, he wrote a eulogy for a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber that was published in the student newspaper.

On social media he's made multiple controversial comments, and posted pictures. On one he posted a picture of a masked man, driving in a truck, holding a machine gun and said "keep it a secret, that's me on the left." He also posted a picture of him in front of the US Capitol and wrote "I come to bury D.C. not to praise it."

When asked Thursday about some of those controversial social media posts, Pino said, "social media is a form of entertainment and that's how I take those posts to be, or anybody else's posts for that matter."

But when pressed if he intended his posts as jokes he said he wouldn't say that, but rather, "People are free to interpret it as they may," said Pino. "I can't speak for other people, I mean that's why we have interpretations. People may have their own views as to what's on there, and I have mine, but that's what living in a free country is all about."

He went on to say, "it could be misinterpreted, and I'm sure it has, but I've made it clear that in no way shape or form do I endorse violence."

Eric Mansfield, Kent State Executive Director, University Media Relations released the following statement:

Kent State is fully cooperating with the FBI and its on going investigation. KSU will have no further comments at this time. The FBI has assured that there are no threats to the KSU campus.

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