I am a Pakistani, a former officer of my country's air force and intelligence services, a close companion of Osama bin Laden in the early days of the Afghan resistance when we fought together against the "evil" Soviets. I am a grandfather and a devout, uncompromising, long-bearded Muslim.
In short, I am what many of you in the United States would today refer to as a "terrorist."
But I and my long-bearded brothers are no more the terrorists than your president and his military advisors.
Legions of Muslims around the world -- and be sure there are many more of us than of you -- agree that a madman should not possess weapons that can threaten or destroy humanity. We despise the tyrant Saddam Hussein's cruelty against his own people every bit as much as you. We are clear in our minds that Hussein's extreme hypocrisy, such as living in palaces whose construction costs would feed a million people in my country for a year, must be dealt with. This includes his removal from power.
The question is how to do it so innocent lives are not lost at the hands of what are perceived by our people as imperialist powers, and in so doing, not losing more and more of our bright minds into what one of your writers has aptly referred to as the "basement" of the Arab and Muslim world.
We worry as much about our children going out one day and blowing themselves up as you worry about them coming at you to do so, whether in Israel or on your streets in America.
Your government's actions are breeding our homicidal bombers at such a fast rate that we cannot cope, what with the meager resources we have to counter the threat you pose to us. Your government proposes a course of action against Iraq and beyond that will lead only to one thing: the breeding of tens of thousands of baby Osamas who will be ever more desperate to tear you down, just as your leaders today seek to destroy the Iraqi regime and next, the one in North Korea or Iran or maybe one day in my country.
We in the Umma, the Muslim world, believe -- not unjustifiably if one studies history -- that American and British rulers, with their laser-guided weapons of mass terror, want to subjugate others who do not wish to be ruled.
We are often amazed at how Americans have allowed their leaders to create an artificial confrontation with us when it is not needed.
We acknowledge that some of our brethren may have become so disenfranchised in their own minds by irrational fears of U.S. domination that they committed violence against civilians not justified by the authentic spirit of Islam's teachings.
Today, I speak on behalf of every true Muslim in our Umma when I apologize to every American for the loss of even one innocent life in any tragic event, including Sept. 11, 2001, in which those who claimed Islam as their religion may have been involved.
Will George Walker Bush apologize to the thousands of Afghan families for the loss of even one innocent father, mother or child from the carpet-bombing raids on our lands? Will he do the same when more Iraqi children die because one tyrant decided to use them as human shields to expose the hypocrisy of another?
It is as if the American government does not recognize the equality of man outside its own borders.
Retaliation breeds only more unjust and inhuman retaliation. Some nation, or group of people, must put an end to this insane cycle of violence before the nuts on your side cause the nuts on our side to create a series of cataclysmic events. Need I remind the American people that Muslims too possess weapons of mass destruction?
True Muslims can never accept the supremacy of another human being's actions over them. Only almighty Allah is supreme. And therein lies the central conflict.
You believe in the separation of church and state. We believe Allah's words as revealed in the Koran are sufficient to govern our life -- the church is the state, if you will.
How, then, do we live in peace together? Perhaps the answer lies within you as a nation that professes democratic values. Show the rational Muslim world your restraint by not leading a war against our innocent children and we will show you how capable we are of dealing with the hypocrisy and evil in our so-called leaders no matter where in the Umma they may rule.
It takes little for us internally to remove Hussein from power. It will cost you billions of dollars, untold losses in military casualties and a lifetime of retaliation from the baby Bin Ladens you will have given rise to.
Do not fear us, because we are not your enemy. Your enemy is within you. The time has come for us to bridge the gulf that divides us for the sake of nothing less than humanity itself.
Khalid Khawaja, a senior intelligence officer for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence from 1985 to 1987, lives in Islamabad and co-authored a 1993 accord that brought together warring factions to end civil strife in Afghanistan.