British Secret Agent during World War II
Hijri 1332-1363 (AH); Common Era 1914-1944 (CE)
Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow, Russia in 1914 to Indian-born Sufi leader Hazrat Inayat Khan and American-born Ora Ray Baker (later known as Ameena Begum), poet and author. Through her father, Noor was a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, an 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore who opposed British rule in India. Raised in the UK and France, Noor studied psychology and music at the Sorbonne in Paris. Following her education she found work writing children’s books. In Twenty Jataka Tales the influence of her father’s pacifist Sufi beliefs yields non-violent and compassionate resolutions to dramatic adventures drawing on the life of the Buddha.1 The World War II violently changed Noor’s life, forcing her to flee to the UK after the fall of France to the Nazis in 1940. By November of that year, she had joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and was subsequently recruited to work as a radio operator for the Special Operations Executive, an espionage and sabotage entity set up by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In 1943, she was the first Allied female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France. Under the code name “Madeleine,” she joined the Prosper resistance network in Paris. Though Noor evaded arrest after a number of the members of the network were captured, she was betrayed to the Gestapo and taken into custody in October of 1943. She escaped prison only to be recaptured and then transferred to Pforzheim in Germany, where she was chained and kept in solitary confinement. She was tortured for months, but divulged no information. In late 1944 she, along with three other female SOE agents, were transferred to Dachau and executed. She was reported to have shouted “liberté,” French for “freedom,” before being shot.  Product description of Twenty Jataka Tales, Amazon.com.