The Kent State University professor under investigation by the FBI for alleged ties to ISIS has a history of complaints from students and parents, according to Cleveland’s Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Director Anita Gray told newsnet5.com that the Cleveland ADL office has been very familiar with Pino’s anti-Israeli statements over the years.
newsnet5.com covered a story in 2002 in which members of the Kent State staff called for Pino’s resignation after he praised a Palestinian suicide bomber in a campus newspaper column.
In 2011, newsnet5.com also covered the response to Pino’s controversial statements during a campus speech by an Israeli diplomat. Pino was seen and heard shouting “Death to Israel” during the event.
“So far, Pino has been protected by the first amendment,” Gray said. “So his speech has been legal but it has not been right, moral and just.”
Pino recently defended his freedom of speech in an interview with the Kent State publication KentWired.com.
“No, I have not violated any U.S. laws that I’m aware of,” Pino told the site’s editor, Emily Mills. “Or that anyone has informed me.”
In the article published Tuesday evening, Mills said the investigation involved Pino’s “alleged involvement with the Islamic State” and “allegedly recruiting students to join ISIS.”
Pino denied any ties to ISIS in a video interview with Mills Tuesday.
The FBI would not comment on the specific allegations, telling newsnet5.com that this is an ongoing investigation.
Newnet5.com reached out to the ACLU of Ohio in regards to Pino's investigation. A spokesperson released the following statement:
One must be reminded the First Amendment exists to protect speech others may find controversial or unpopular. This includes the speech of Mr. Pino and other faculty at public universities. Regarding the specific investigation against Professor Pino, we must necessarily decline comment without knowing more.
In June, Amir Said Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazi, 38, of Sheffield Lake was arrested for allegedly creating ISIL recruitment videos and trying to buy an AK-47 from undercover agents.
Al-Ghazi’s twitter account first alerted agents to his alleged activities. Social media surveillance also lead to the arrest of an Akron man last week.
Terrence McNeil, 25, of Akron was taken into federal custody in November for soliciting violence after allegedly posting an ISIS “hit list” of military members. Charging documents said a Sept. 24 Tumblr post listed the names and addresses of military members and called for their murders.
In an interview after the arrests, Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony told newsnet5.com that the Cleveland field office has a “heavy caseload” of investigations involving possible ISIS threats.
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