A London-based Islamic scholar has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning Al Qaida-style suicide operations, a Saudi newspaper reported on Saturday.

"These operations are closer to suicide than to martyrdom-seeking, and they are taboo and not permissible," Abdul Menem Mustafa Halimeh reportedly wrote on his website.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat described the Syrian-born scholar, also known as Abu Baseer Al Tartussi, as a top ideologue for Islamist militants.

Tartussi reportedly said that one of the reasons for his stance was that suicide operations often entail "wrongfully killing innocent and sacred souls, be they Muslim or otherwise."

Al Awsat said that some Muslims consider the edict a letdown for Al Qaida followers, and has provoked angry comments on several Islamist websites.

The edict was dated August 24, the same day Britain unveiled a plan to bar or deport foreign Islamist radicals who encourage terrorist violence.

Meanwhile, a Saudi Islamic activist in London has shut down his website containing video clips of suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq and pro-Al Qaida propaganda.

Mohammad Al Massari said he had temporarily shut down the website while awaiting clarification on his status in Britain. He denied that authorities had contacted him.

Al Massari posted an Internet "obituary" saying that his site had been a victim of the "murder of freedom of opinion and expression by the oppressive regime lead by Tony Blair."

The British government said it was prepared to act within days against "a number of names" to either deport or bar them from the country under new anti-terrorism measures.