CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida in Iraq and its allies warned Pope Benedict XVI on Monday that he and the West were "doomed" and proclaimed that the holy war would continue until Islam dominates the world.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni Arab extremist groups that includes al-Qaida in Iraq, issued a statement on a Web forum about the pope's remarks last week on Islam. The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately independently verified.
"You infidels and despotic, we will continue our jihad (holy war) and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism when God's rule is established governing all people and nations," the statement said.
The group said Muslims will be victorious and addressed the pope as "the worshipper of the cross" saying "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."
Islam forbids drinking alcohol and requires non-Muslims to pay a head tax to safeguard their lives if conquered by Muslims. They are exempt if they convert to Islam.
The statement said that the Quran tells Muslims in many occasions that "jihad continues and should never stop until dooms day where this religion ends victorious."
The group also accused U.S. President George W. Bush of initiating the "new Crusades campaign against Islam by his invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq while the servant of the cross, the pope of the Vatican, is continuing this path by his blatant attack on Islam, its prophet ... and especially his talk about jihad."
Benedict on Tuesday in Germany had quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam.
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" he quoted the emperor as saying.
The pope on Sunday said that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction and said the remarks came from a text that didn't reflect his own opinion.