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A Former CIA Tracker Shares the Fine Art of Ferreting Out Fugitives

December 21, 2017 in History

By Sean D. Naylor

Nada Bakos, former Central Intelligence Agency analyst and targeting officer who joined the CIA in 2000, was instrumental in hunting down Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq.

Nada Bakos, who joined the manhunt team on Season 3 of HISTORY’s Hunting Hitler, is a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst and targeting officer who joined the CIA in 2000 and began to study illicit finance networks, with a focus on North Korea. But after the September 11 attacks in 2001, she volunteered to work in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, where she was instrumental in hunting down Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces in 2006. Bakos talks with HISTORY about the day-to-day business of working for the CIA and strategies for finding people who don’t want to be found.

What are the similarities between your role on ‘Hunting Hitler’ and your work, say, hunting a terrorist like al-Zarqawi?
It really was analogous. Because when you’re trying to paint a picture of where someone might end up going—and what their strategy was and what their intent was—it was basically the same thing. By the end of World War II the Nazi leadership had dissolved into a network from a bureaucracy and a hierarchical structure, which is very similar to what Zarqawi was doing inside of Iraq. He didn’t have a very significant hierarchy. His was literally a network of nodes and power centers, so that was very similar to what the Nazi leadership ended up doing after they were fleeing Germany.

Do you actually believe that Hitler escaped to South America, or to anywhere?
It’s funny, because you take all these history classes, and studying World War II, you’re not really taught the history of what happened at the end, necessarily, with some of the leadership. We talk about the rebuilding of Europe and what happened to the United States and the global economy. We talk about the trials and who was actually caught.

But what I found through doing this show was how much of a significant portion of the Nazis’ leadership escaped. And for me, what was more compelling than the question of whether Hitler could have gotten out was the fact that so many of these [other Nazi leaders] got out and continued to conduct the same type of atrocities in South America that they did in Germany. It looked like [Hitler] could have gotten out of Germany much easier than I ever anticipated. Do I think he did? That’s probably a spoiler, right?

My …read more

Source: HISTORY

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