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Arizona Muslims draw FBI scrutiny

Nov. 16, 2008 at 4:38 PM

PHOENIX, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Muslim leaders in Arizona have drawn increased scrutiny from federal officials in the past year because of a string of suspicious incidents, officials say.

Although no one in the state has been accused of supporting terrorists, one Mesa, Ariz., man was charged with lying to the FBI during the terror financing investigation into a Muslim charity accused of funneling money to the Palestinian group Hamas, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

Also drawing attention to Arizona Muslims was a target-shooting episode in Phoenix that involved a large group of Muslim men and boys firing hundreds of rounds from AK-47s and other guns. Then there was the removal in 2006 of six Arizona-bound imams from a jetliner after passengers and crew complained of their behavior.

The FBI is monitoring the family and community ties among residents involved in incidents, said John Lewis, who runs the FBI's Arizona office.

"All of these things come on our scope," he said.

Islamic leaders say that while they understand the scrutiny following the incidents, they say it as another sign that Muslims in general are unjustly falling under suspicion because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Whoever did Sept. 11, go after them and see who they are," said Marwan Sadeddin, one of the Arizona imams who sued US Airways after being removed from a jetliner in Minneapolis.

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