I stumbled into Cairo determined to learn Arabic, read the Quran, experience Muslim culture first-hand and test my enthusiasm for Islam.

From my editor’s office on Pushkin Square, I watched on television the last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan and arrive in Uzbekistan, retreating across the Amudarya River on the Friendship Bridge. Even as the troops retreated, mujahideen snipers continued to target them, with US arms still being poured into what was already a powder keg.