Julio Cèsar Pino is a former tenured Associate Professor in the Department of History at Kent State University, specializing in Latin American History.
Pino was born in Havana in 1960, the year after Fidel Castro’s rebel forces first entered the city during Cuba’s Communist Revolution. In retrospect, Pino states that “the Revolution brought justice” made manifest by “the improvement of the lives of my relatives” and by a host of “positive economic and psychological transformations.”
In 1968 Pino and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended parochial school. Due to a crisis of faith arising from what he perceived to be Christians’ support for the Vietnam War, Pino in the early 1970s transferred to a public high school and became an agnostic, a position he would retain until finding Islam more than two decades later.
In 1980 Pino enrolled at UCLA, where he majored in history with a specialization in Brazilian studies. “The 1980s posed terrible and challenging tasks for Latinos on campus,” Pino recounts. “Our brothers and sisters in Central America were being butchered by American-trained death-squads daily. Poverty and unemployment inside the United States surged while the rich grew fatter under the presidency of Ronald Reagan…. Quickly, I turned into a cynic, and like many burnt-out politicos, took to drink.”
Disillusioned with Catholicism and Christianity generally, Pino in 2000 became a Muslim after reading The Qur’an on a plane ride. “All religions claim they are more than just a religion but a complete way of life, but only in Islam is this vow fulfilled,” he says.
Pino’s Muslim name is Assad Jibril Pino, and he has embraced the most extreme interpretation of his adoptive religion. In 2001 Pino publicly inveighed against what he termed Israel’s “genocide of the Palestinians” — a remark which, he would later report, made him “subject to defamation, harassment, and even death threats in my office.” Such treatement, he said, was “fairly standard fare for most Muslims in America.”
In an April 2002 guest column for the Kent State campus newspaper, Pino penned an effusive tribute to Ayat al-Akras, a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber who had murdered two Israelis at a Jerusalem supermarket on March 29. In that piece — titled “Singing out Prayer for a Youth Martyr” — Pino insisted that Akras was no terrorist but had “died a martyr’s death … in occupied Jerusalem, Palestine.” Pino also derided President Bush as a “numbskull,” and called for boycotts of all Israeli and American products.
In 2005 Pino wrote another controversial letter to his campus newspaper, this time lauding University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill for his “righteous obsession with European and American genocide and terrorism against peoples of color all over the world, from 1492 to 2001.” Pino also claimed that during the Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy had planned a “genocide against the Cuban people”; that President Bill Clinton had killed “more than 500,000 Iraqi children” via sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq; and that “cocaine cowboy” George W. Bush had “added an extra 100,000 corpses to the pile of brown colored [Iraqi] corpses.” Referring to his students at Kent State as his “little jihadists” and his “beloved Taliban,” Pino made it clear that he sought to indoctrinate, not merely educate, the young men and women in his classes. He concluded that “[i]n an America rapidly descending toward Christian fascism, we need more Ward Churchills.”
Pino says that his worldview is animated by his “unfulfilled need to bring social justice to the world.” In the classes he teaches at Kent State, he compels his students to approach the study of Latin American history from the perspective of leftist “Third World” politics, which he identifies with such revolutionaries as Fidel Castro and the communist Sandinista regimes of Central America. Pino blames the political upheavals of Central America wholly on the “daily” butchery of “American-trained death-squads,” and praises the Sandinistas for having “succeeded in building a society free of class exploitation and gender inequality.”
Pino has been known to participate in Internet Usenet groups and to provoke arguments with other readers on such subjects as U.S. foreign policy, Marxism, and pedagogy. In September 2000, for instance, a difference of opinion on a Marxist listserve led Pino to declare a fatwa on the moderator of the “Marxism List,” emphasizing that the latter and all his helpers were “hereby sentenced to death.”
In 2007 Pino was a contributor to the weblog Global War, a self-described “jihadist news service” that provided “battle dispatches, training manuals, and jihad videos to our [Muslim] brothers worldwide.” The now-defunct website regularly called for the mass murder of Jews and American soldiers; it supplied readers with explicit bomb-making instructions; and it declared support for the Taliban and al Qaeda.
One Global War dispatch, presumably written by Pino, was titled “Sister Detonates Herself to Eliminate Shia Traitors.” This piece hailed a female suicide bomber who had killed 41 people as a martyr who “[n]ow … lies on the Golden Couch of Paradise.”
After having criticized Pino numerous times in print, University of North Carolina professor and Townhall columnist Mike Adams received (on September 11, 2007), from someone claiming to be Pino, an email asserting that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were justified by the Islamic faith. The correspondence read, in part:
“The martyr is performing an action that is the culmination of a whole life’s struggle, and in turn gives meaning to that life.… All of life is preparation, and striving for, martyrdom…. [T]he Muslim … acknowledges the existence of only two groups of human beings; men of faith — his Brothers — and the kaaffir (unbelievers and apostates), those ungrateful and rebellious beings that, like Satan himself, opted for disobedience…. The Muslim is commanded in the Quran to ‘fight oppression and overcome tribulation, until all religion is for Allah.’ This is the true meaning of jihad; daily struggle, in every manner prescribed by Allah and His Messenger…. The martyr has no time for peace … [T]he greatest of all epics is martyrdom. ‘Laa ‘ilaaha ‘illallahu (There is none worthy of worship but Allah) must be on his dying lips that he may enter Paradise. Not by chance did Mohammed Atta’s ‘Instructions for the Final Night’ counsel him [sic] make these his last words before crashing into the World Trade Center. Amen.”
Adams repeatedly contacted Pino’s office at Kent State to ascertain whether or not it was indeed Pino who had sent the email. Pino never responded.
In 2018, Pino was sentenced to five months in prison for lying to the FBI and was fired from Kent State University.