A revealing and utterly engrossing account" (Joby Warrick) of the world of high-stakes foreign intelligence and her role within the campaign to stop top-tier targets inside Al-Qaida from former CIA analyst Nada Bakos In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agency first as an analyst and then as a Targeting Officer, eventually finding herself on the frontline of America's War against Islamic extremists. In this role, Nada was charged with determining if Iraq had a relationship with 9/11 and Al-Qaida, and finding the mastermind behind this terrorist activity: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Her team's analysis stood the test of time, but it was not satisfactory for some members of the Administration.
In a tight, tension-packed narrative that takes the reader from Langley deep into Iraq, Bakos reveals the inner workings of the Agency and the largely hidden world of intelligence gathering post 9/11. Entrenched in the world of the CIA, Bakos, along with her colleagues, focused on leading U.S. Special Operations Forces to the doorstep of one of the world's most wanted terrorists.
Filled with on-the-ground insights and poignant personal anecdotes, The Targeter shows us the great personal sacrifice that comes with intelligence work. This is Nada's story, but it is also an intimate chronicle of how a group of determined, ambitious men and women worked tirelessly in the heart of the CIA to ensure our nation's safety at home and abroad.
Former CIA analyst and targeting officer Bakos chronicles her search for terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an uneven if occasionally gripping memoir. Bakos joined the CIA in 2000, and her first major assignment was to track al-Zarqawi, who initially "found al Qaida's approach to jihad far too moderate" and later helmed the group in Iraq. She recounts interrogations from Iraq in the summer of 2003 in vivid detail, such as hiding in a dark passageway to eavesdrop on a burly Iraqi intelligence officer nicknamed Evil Hagrid. In August that year, Bakos returned to CIA headquarters, and here she describes the inner workings of the department, which, unfortunately, don't hold the same suspense as the on-the-ground action. Bakos astutely observes the sexism in CIA meetings (her suggestions were better received when delivered by male coworkers) and the disarming power women interrogators had over jihadists. She retired before al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. air strike in 2006, so her recount of the event lacks the insider details that fuel the book's best moments. Despite the subtitle's reference to challenging the White House, there are few details regarding executive branch interactions. This memoir will appeal to those curious about the CIA's inner workings, but as a CIA thriller it misses the mark.