The plan started as Bush was refusing to release 28 pages of the 9/11 congressional report made public in July - pages that allegedly detail how financial networks in Saudi Arabia have funded terrorism. Sources tell TIME that around the time Bush decided to withhold the 28 pages, he telephoned Crown Prince Abdullah and had a cordial chat with the de facto Saudi ruler. Bush brushed aside the controversy and, wanting the two countries to move forward, told Abdullah he would send advisers to discuss the purported financial networks.
Sources also tell TIME that a group of FBI and IRS agents are scheduled to fly to Riyadh this week to start work at a joint center that could one day house two dozen financial experts. "It's difficult to overestimate the potential value of this joint effort," says Treasury general counsel David Aufhauser, the top U.S. official dealing with terrorist finances. # # #