An associate professor at Kent State University in Ohio is being investigated by the FBI for possibly supporting the Islamic State, according to school officials.
The probe was revealed by a student newspaper after its editor was interviewed by the FBI as part of its probe into professor Julio Pino.
An unknown FBI agent told KentWired.com that a joint terrorism task force has been investigating the history professor for the last year and a half and said there is no direct threat to the university.
The agent said the FBI had interviewed several faculty members and more than 20 of Mr. Pino’s students. He is also being investigated for allegedly recruiting students to join the Islamic State, according to KentWired.com.
Mr. Pino told KentWired.com that he had not been contacted by authorities or Kent State officials about the investigation.
In an interview with the student paper Kent Stater, he denied any wrongdoing.
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“I have not broken the law. I don’t advocate that anyone else break the law,” he said. “Everything I’ve done … is perfectly legal.”
Mr. Pino, who converted to Islam, said he fulfill his “duty as an American by speaking out on issues that are controversial, of course.”
He made headlines in Oct. 2011 after shouting “Death to Israel” at a public lecture given by a former Israeli diplomat. The university condemned his remarks at the time.
An independent probe Tuesday turned up disturbing posts on his purported Facebook page praising Osama bin Laden and urging al Qaeda fighters to merge with the terrorist group.
“Sheik Osama (May Allah be Pleased with Him) was the greatest, and desrves (sic) praise for kicking off this jihad,” one post from an account in Julio Cesar Pino’s name begins. The post, which has since been deleted, was preserved in a screenshot by The Clarion Project, a New York-based research institute that monitors international terrorism.
University spokesman Eric Mansfield told the New York Daily News that the institution had been contacted and was fully cooperating with the feds.
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A statement from Kent State added, “As this is an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment. The FBI has assured Kent State that there is no threat to campus.”
Mr. Pino has been teaching at Kent State since 1992 and has made tenure.