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EP 135: Former CIA Analyst Nada Bakos Is NOT "Maya" from Zero Dark Thirty (Or So She Says!

Nada Bakos was a CIA analyst and the Chief Targeting officer charged with finding the godfather of ISIS and mastermind of al Qaida in Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She’s also (according to some) the inspiration for the character of “Maya,” the CIA analyst in the Oscar-winning film Zero Dark Thirty. Today, Nada Bakos will talk about how she rose up through the predominantly male world of the CIA to become one of the agencies top analysts and the chief targeter of the most wanted man in the world. She reveals how CIA trackers finally found Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, how communication intercepts gave her a unique window on the power struggle between Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, and how those communications eventually led to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden himself.

Special thanks to the Milken Institute for hosting this interview during the 2016 Milken Global Conference. Visit to learn more about their work to improve global stability and prosperity.

You can visit Nada Bakos’s website at and read more of her work as a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute at Follow Nada Bakos on twitter at @NadaBakos and pre-order her book The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, on the Hunt for the Godfather of ISIS which hits book shelves in June 2017.

Today's podcast is sponsored by Reuters TV, video news that's personalized, always up to date, and ready when you are. Visit to check out their cool new free news app and show your support for the podcast.

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