Sorority girl reveals how she became a CIA couter terrorism officer who thwarted al-Qaeda conspiracies
A Californian women’s club girl defied the chances when she was drawn to the high-stakes world of CIA elite counterterrorism operations, where she would thwart Al Qaeda conspiracies after 9/11 and interview trapped captive terrorists in the Middle East.
When Tracy Walder first arrived at the University of Southern California in 1996, she aspired to the normal bachelor’s experience by rushing Delta Gamma and easily “absorbed in the crowd” of other young co-eds.
She flourished in Greek university life, where she was elected vice-president of social norms, celebrated with close friends and would have decorated her room completely in pink if not for her roommate’s protests.
Walder, whose news junkie and history lover, initially intended to become a school teacher until fate pushed her to a CIA recruiter at a job fair during her junior year.
Tracy Walder (photo) temporarily abandoned her dreams of becoming a teacher at the CIA – and later the FBI – where she would become an expert in Al Qaeda and confront the imprisoned terrorist workers in the Middle East
At the time, Walder was dressed in a pink top, flip flops, and pushed past a Huffy bike when the recruiter asked her the life-changing question, New York Post reports.
“Do you want to be at the CIA?” he asked, after Walder handed him a resume out of partial compassion.
“Yes, I do,” she said, shocking herself with the honesty of her answer.
Walder recalls the surprising moment in her upcoming memoir, “The Unexpected Spy: From CIA to The FBI, My Secret Life Taking Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists,” with co-author Jessive Anya Blau.
The CIA would give Walder a series of intense interviews, including two lie detector tests and interviewing four of her sorority sisters, before finally welcoming her into the ranks of the office’s elite.
When she was just 21 years old, she started her career at the CIA in 2000. Over time, Walder became an expert in Al Qaeda, interviewed terrorist workers in the Middle East, and was well versed in chemical weapons.
Walder (right), pictured with two of her Delta Gamma student club sisters, studied at the University of Southern California and soon became separated from the Greek student culture
Although she has entrenched herself in the world of terrorist networks at the CIA, Walder wrote that she feared Osama bin Laden for several years after watching a TV interview with him in 1997.
Those fears suddenly felt when Osama bin Laden attacked the United States on 11 September 2001 and killed nearly 3,000 people.
She remembers seeing live footage of American Airlines Flight 77 tragically crashed onto the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Walder wrote: “The plane might as well have crashed to the south side of my body. The pain, the guilt, the feeling that my failures resulted in lost lives. . . all other thoughts cleared. “
The Sept. 11 attacks forced the CIA to step to the front lines of the country, forcing Walder to be assigned to an elite counterterrorism unit set up solely to stop Al Qaeda.
“I was ready to match the score,” she wrote.
Walder traveled the world in her attempts to bypass al-Qaeda plans, flying from Europe to the Middle East and Africa.
She describes how to cope with countless challenges, including exhaustion, homesickness and sexism by men who called her “Malibu Barbie.”
Family holidays with her parents in Los Angeles were put aside and Walder worked a strict week of seven days.
After the 9/11 attacks in the United States, Walder (pictured) joined an anti-terrorism elite unit that sent her to Europe, the Middle East and Africa to stop Al Qaeda efforts
Walder said, however, that the White House was only interested in getting information that linked Al-Qaeda with former Iranian President Saddam Hussein.
Unfortunately there was none.
“The whole thing felt like a crazy fun-house game,” Walder wrote.
“Whatever we have reported to the administration, they have turned it around, turned it inside out and spit it back with some non-truth.”
In the meantime, she began to get thoughts about settling down and wondering if she could have a family as a spy.
Walder applied impulsively for a position at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and stepped in.
While in the FBI, Walder made a name for himself by revealing a Chinese man-and-woman team that sent military secrets to China.
Employees Chi and Rebecca Mak have lived in Los Angeles since the 1970s.
“The unexpected spy: from CIA to the FBI, my secret life that kills some of the world’s most notorious terrorists” will be released on February 25
Chi worked for Power Paragon, a company that developed products for the US Navy, while Walder conducted her research.
The couple usually kept it to themselves and ate their meals in newspapers.
It was Walder’s job to search their garbage with directions.
In the waste of the Mak, Walder, with the help of a Chinese translator, would find an eye-opening piece of information.
They found a ‘to-do list’ between the greasy pages of discarded newspapers [that] clearly identified classified materials that Mak had to deliver to the Chinese government. “
Chi has been stealing American secrets for decades.
While Walder excelled in her work, her time at the FBI turned out to be bad for her and described the desk as a boys’ club.
“I was the girl,” she wrote, saying that she had bullying and outgrowing sexist training officers.
In one incident she was disciplined because she was wearing a suit that was considered “distracting.”
Walder spent 15 months with the FBI and notes that there are currently a dozen women who have filed a complaint against the[m] with the Equal Employment Commission. “
In the following years, she has since given up her job with the government and moved to Dallas, Texas, where she works as a history teacher at a girls’ school.
Fighting terrorism was what originally inspired her, but now she has taken on a new mission to encourage girls to perform intelligence functions and deconstruct the culture of the agency.
She wrote: “I am not afraid of big goals.”