"He's an old man, but his mind is bright," Rohrabacher said. "He's
able to act as a figurehead."
The 86-year-old Shah ruled over a period of relative peace in the
country, from 1933 to 1973, until he was overthrown.
Some U.S. leaders, a group Rohrabacher counts himself part of, hope
Shah can unify opposition to the Taliban and force out the oppressive
The meeting must have been a success.
On Monday, Shah announced he would join in forming a coalition
government to try to install a constitutional democracy in Afghanistan.
Rohrabacher's fascination with Afghanistan goes back to his days, in
the mid-1980s, when he served as a speech writer for President Ronald
At the time, the height of the Cold War, the U.S. was supplying arms
and aid to the moujahedeen -- Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet Union's
military presence in the country.
Rohrabacher supported the moujahedeen as a way to "keep the spread of
communism from expanding," said Ricardo Bernal, a spokesman for
Shortly after his election to Congress in 1988, Rohrabacher traveled
to Afghanistan in secrecy. At the time, the newly elected congressman
spent five days with the moujahedeen, camping in ravines and witnessing
Rohrabacher became the target of some criticism in 1990 when he
invited Afghan rebel leader Gen. Ramatullah Safi to participate in
Huntington Beach's Fourth of July parade.
President George Bush has been developing the country's response to
the Sept. 11 attacks. That response could come in the next few days,
Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, hiding out in Afghanistan, has been
linked to the terrorist attacks. It will be important not only for the
Bush administration to capture bin Laden, but also to bring down the
"We've got to act quickly," Rohrabacher said. "I am very optimistic
that this can be done, that within 30 days of the decision the Taliban
can be gone and bin Laden can be in chains."
During the weekend trip, Rohrabacher said he also met with leaders of
the governments of Russia and Turkey.
* Paul Clinton covers the environment and John Wayne Airport. He may
be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7