RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh branded suicide bombers as “criminals” who will go to “hell,” Al-Hayat daily reported Thursday.

Suicide bombings are “great crimes” and bombers are “criminals who rush themselves to hell by their actions”, Sheikh said during a lecture in Riyadh a few days ago, according to Al-Hayat.

Sheikh described suicide bombers as “robbed of their minds... who have been used (as tools) to destroy themselves and societies”.

In Feb 2010, Sheikh denounced terrorism as un-Islamic and condemned the killing of civilians, saying such attacks have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.

His latest remarks come after a preliminary inquiry into a Dec 5 suicide car bombing and assault on a Yemen defence ministry complex found that most assailants were Saudis. Fifty-six people were killed in the attack.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), which was formed from a merger of the jihadist network's Saudi and Yemeni branches, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Tuesday, a Saudi court jailed an Al Qaeda-linked jihadist for 16 years for plotting to kill Sheikh and other clerics.