Nada Bakos

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Former CIA Analyst & Targeting Officer

Global Outlook
Inspirational Stories
National Security

Nada Bakos: Biography at a Glance

  • Served as an analyst for the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center
  • Author of “The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, on the Hunt for the Godfather of ISIS”
  • Appears as a commentator on CNN, ABC, FOX, MSNBC, BBC and other outlets
  • Appeared in the Emmy-winning HBO documentary “Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden”
  • Wrote key intelligence reports from the front lines in Iraq that were delivered to the White House, congressional leaders and the Department of Defense



Nada Bakos, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, was on the team charged with analyzing the relationship between Iraq, Al-Qaeda and 9/11. During the war, Bakos served as a Targeting Officer in the Counterterrorism Center. As an analyst at the CIA, she wrote and contributed to key intelligence reports from the front lines in Iraq, reports delivered to the White House, Congressional leaders and Department of Defense. After leaving the CIA, Bakos applied her ability to assess and respond to complex national security issues to identifying business risks for Seattle-based Starbucks Corporate, where she translated these risks into actionable strategic communications plans in support of the company’s global expansion. Bakos has worked with C-level corporate executives, senior level government officials, and front-line-technical teams to help them understand the business - or security - related context to deploying new processes and technologies. After 20 years in the intelligence field and corporate world, Bakos is currently focused on national security issues, illicit networks and regional stability around the world. Bakos most recently appeared in the Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden explaining her role in tracking down the terrorist.

Bakos’ began as an analyst in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and later transitioned to the National Clandestine Service, where the spies work. As an analyst, she had the rare opportunity to work with some unbelievably smart and perceptive people, men and women who can discern pertinent pieces of information in volumes of data and make sense of them in a clear and concise manner, working at speeds and under pressures that few others likely experience. As Bakos’ career transitioned from an analyst to a Targeting Officer following Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, her career path was full of unanticipated and unimaginable possibilities.

As a manager in the Targeting organization, Bakos’ action arm was quite often the Special Forces teams and the CIA’s targeting teams set up to meet their unique requirements for ‘high value, actionable’ intelligence. Their targeting work focused on compiling “intelligence” collected holistically to create “targeting packages” against specific individuals and organizations vs. whack-a-mole targeting. Unlike previous wars, traditional tactical battlefield intelligence wasn’t always actionable, intel had to be rooted out from multiple sources and pieced together. It is here that Bakos’ unique skill set thrived in mining and interpreting these non-traditional pieces of “intelligence” that eventually played a major role in capturing the most wanted man in history.

In 2017 Bakos releasedThe Targeter: My Life in the CIA, on the Hunt for the Godfather of ISIS, a book that takes readers from her hometown farm in Montana to the halls of Langley and the battlefields of Baghdad as the first female CIA targeting agent to enter the war zone.


"5 Decision-Making Strategies Under Pressure"
"Communications and Stress: How to Develop Your 'Bottom-Line Up Front' Statement"
"Employee Engagement: How to Effectively Allow Employees to Have Autonomy and Authority"
"The Current State of Terrorism"

We heard really great feedback regarding Nada’s presentation. Everything ran smoothly and the presentation was especially intriguing.

Fifth Third Securities

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