An Ohio college professor who called Israel “the spiritual heir to Nazism” and spoke openly about “Jihad” is being investigated by the FBI for possible links to ISIS.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that the bureau was looking into Kent State University associate professor Julio “Assad” Pino for ties to the terrorist group, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Pino is an associate professor of history specializing in Latin American history and the third world.
“Because it’s an ongoing investigation, I can’t say too much about it,” the spokeswoman said.
Pino, who is from Cuba and is a convert to Islam, denied the allegations.
“I’ve never broken the law,” he told the Beacon Journal. “I support no violence or violent organizations. 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 blamed his past rhetoric for possibly inspiring the probe.
“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.”
The FBI has already questioned several of Pino’s colleagues and students, the Beacon Journal reported.
Emily Mills, the editor-in-chief of student newspaper the Kent Stater, said she was among those interviewed.
“They said they were looking into his alleged ties to the Islamic State,” Mills told the Beacon Journal. “They said it was an ongoing investigation and that they were questioning faculty and other students.”
A Kent State spokesperson said the FBI assured the college there was no threat to the school.
Pino has a long history of making controversial and anti-Semitic statements.
In a 2014 “open letter” to “academic friends of Israel,” he accused pro-Israel members of the academic community as being “directly responsible for the murder of more than 1,400 Palestinian children, women and elderly civilians.” He signed that letter “Jihad until victory!”
He also shouted “Death to Israel” during a presentation by a former Israeli official in 2011, eulogized a Palestinian suicide bomber in the Kent Stater and allegedly posted jihad-promoting messages on a jihad website in 2007.