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Arizona lawmakers want to prevent spread of radical Islam, ISIS in local communities

FILE - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/militant website, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona legislators have set their sights on preventing the spread of radical Islam in local Muslim communities.

Specifically, state lawmakers want to stop the Islamic State terror group from recruiting Arizona sympathizers.

This week, the Arizona Senate committee on public safety, military and technology heard from Dr. Zudhi Jasser, a Phoenix-area expert on political Islam.

“A lot of it has to do with political correctness, a lot of it has to with lack of education about what the root cause of political Islam is and how it works,” he told lawmakers. “So, I would beg you to begin to use your platform.”

Jasser, the founder of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, told lawmakers they need to work closer with non-radicalized Muslim communities to stop radical Islam from reaching Arizona.

“The only way to counter radical Islam is to separate mosque and state,” he said. “This process that the West went through in fighting theocracy in the 17th and 18th century is something that Islam still has to go through as a faith community.”

A report last year from Fox News said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is concerned Phoenix may become a hotbed for terrorism recruitment.

Fox said the FBI is most concerned about the area between near Interstate 17 and Cactus Road, the former neighborhood of two men who opened fire on a Texas cartoon convention earlier this year.

A mosque in the same area has been the target of several anti-Muslim protests.

At least one person from the Phoenix area has been arrested for allegedly supporting ISIS. Ahmed Mohammed El Gammal, 42, allegedly helped a New York City college student travel to Syria via Turkey to receive military-style training from ISIS.

KTAR’s Carter Nacke contributed to this report.

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