Cleric has been closely watched
Video image of Abu Bakr speaking earlier this year to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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(CNN) -- One of the people arrested in anti-terrorism raids Tuesday in Australia is outspoken Muslim cleric Abu Bakr, also known as Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
Bakr has been the subject of intense scrutiny by Australian security and intelligence services for some time, most recently following public comments made in August in support of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
"Osama bin Laden, he is a great man," Bakr said then during an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
Australian media also have reported that some of the followers of Bakr's Melbourne-based fundamentalist Islamic group have attended terror training camps in Afghanistan.
According to media reports, Bakr had his passport removed in March by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) because "he was likely to prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country" if he traveled overseas.
He also was the subject of two ASIO raids in June, ABC radio reported.
Bakr, 45, is a dual Algerian and Australian citizen who has lived in Melbourne's northern suburbs since 1989.
Melbourne is Australia's second-largest city and is the capital of the southern state of Victoria.
Among the ASIO concerns over Bakr's beliefs are his alleged support for the right of Australians to engage in militant jihad overseas and his adherence to Islamic law over Australian law.
In his ABC radio interview Bakr denied he was a threat, saying he was being targeted because of his strong Islamic views.
"I am not involved in anything here. I am teaching my brothers here the Koran and the Sunna, and I am trying my best to keep myself, my family, my kids and the Muslims close to this religion," he said.
But he also said he could not discourage those who wished to fight overseas "because Jihad is part of my religion," and to do so would betray those beliefs.
"I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate. The only one law which needs to spread, it can be here or anywhere else, has to be Islam," he said.
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