NPR STORY: “New PBS Documentary on Female Muslim Hero Against Nazi Germany”

Posted on September 8, 2014


Noor Inayat Khan, one of the heroines of World War II, had a short, astonishing life, one that took her from a pacifist childhood to a daring career in covert operations. She was a Muslim woman who worked as a British spy — a radio operator — in Nazi-occupied Paris.

A new docudrama about her, Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story, premieres Tuesday on PBS.

Alex Kronemer, executive producer of the film, calls Inayat Khan “a very unlikely British agent” — in part because of her spiritual background. Born in Moscow in 1914, Inayat Khan was the daughter of an American mother and an Indian father. Her father, a Sufi Muslim who preached tolerance and believed all religions were one, raised his daughter as a pacifist.

“A woman who grew up raised not to lie, raised to be a pacifist — and yet here she was doing one of the most dangerous missions available in the war and doing it when many other people backed away,” Kronemer tells NPR’s Arun Rath.

Inayat Khan grew up in Paris; when the Nazis invaded, her family fled to the United Kingdom. Khan had a choice: She could stay with her family in the U.K. and remain in relative safety, or she could leave her new home and join the war effort.

She chose to risk her life for the cause. Inayat Khan joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, was trained as a wireless operator and was recruited to join the Special Operations Executive. She was stationed in Paris as a radio operator in 1943, linking French resistance fighters with British intelligence.

Shortly after she arrived, most of the other agents at her post were arrested. The few who escaped capture returned to the U.K. — except Inayat Khan. She remained for four months and was the only link between England and the early French resistance group.

Eventually, someone turned her in to Nazi officers for a reward. She violently resisted her arrest, tried to escape captivity twice and was declared “highly dangerous” by the Nazis.

In September 1944, when she was 30 years old, she was sent to the Dachau concentration camp and executed. Her final word was “Liberté.”  [Please click here to read the remainder of the article and interview of Alex Kronemer

A Muslim Hero who fought against Nazi Germany and made the ultimate sacrifice.

A Muslim Hero who fought against Nazi Germany and made the ultimate sacrifice.