|This article appears in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Sadruddin Aga Khan:
by Scott Thompson and Joseph Brewda
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the second son of the hereditary Imam of the Ismaili sect of Shi'ism, is a specialist in running intelligence operations under humanitarian cover. A career U.N. bureaucrat, and the former coordinator of U.N. Humanitarian and Economic Assistance Programs relating to Afghanistan, Prince Sadruddin was deeply involved in providing safe haven for the Afghan mujahideen, and facilitating their dispersal throughout the world. Because of this role, Prince Sadruddin was the British government's preferred candidate for U.N. secretary general in 1991, even ahead of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the third-generation British agent who landed the job.
The Ismaili line of Imams traces its lineage directly back to the Prophet Mohammed. The family's most notorious ancestors, the "Assassins," built up a powerful cult presence in Iran, where the family resided until the 1840s, when they were driven into India. There, they became a military arm of the British raj, including in operations in Afghanistan. Prince Sadruddin's grandfather, Aga Khan II, was a founder of the Muslim League, sponsored by the British in the wake of the Sepoy Rebellion of 1858; its activities ultimately led to the vivisection of India in 1947. His father, who was the 48th Imam, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III, was very close to the British royal family during his 72-year reign, and held the post of chairman of the League of Nation's General Assembly for a year. The 49th Imam, Prince Agha Khan IV, was given the British title "His Highness" by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 at the death of his grandfather. Prince Sadruddin's title is likewise recognized by the British royal family.
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan's career began in the 1950s, when he became publisher of the Paris Review, one of the more important Anglo-American intelligence operations of its day, peddling the degenerate "Children of the Sun," who were precursors of the rock-drug-sex counterculture. The managing editor of the publication, John Train, had been Prince Sadruddin's roommate at Harvard. Train went on to become a top Wall Street financial adviser, while continuing to play a key behind-the-scenes role in diverse intelligence operations, including in Afghanistan (see article, p. 18). Train and Prince Sadruddin continue to form a team.
In the mid-1950s, Prince Sadruddin became a career U.N. civil servant. By 1962, he was U.N. deputy high commissioner for refugees, and he served as high commissioner for refugees during 1967-77. Since that time, he has been brought back to handle special crises dealing with the mass relocation of impoverished people, especially in war zones. Thus, he was made coordinator of the U.N. Humanitarian and Economic Assistance Programs relating to Afghanistan, working closely with John Train, in what was code-named Operation Salam.
Operation Salam was officially intended to organize the repatriation of Afghan refugees after the Soviet withdrawal. But under this pretext, it also oversaw the dispersal of Afghan war veterans and refugees throughout the world, and even before the fighting had stopped. Prince Sadruddin's program also reportedly was involved in the military training and covert military supply of the Afghan mujahideen, who often operated out of U.N. refugee camps that he administered on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Even earlier, Prince Sadruddin was asked by his longtime tennis partner, Vice President George Bush, to undertake secret negotiations with the Iranian government, on behalf of freeing the U.S. hostages. During the same period, some of the arms flowing into Pakistan for use by the Afghan mujahideen were being diverted to Iran on behalf of the "Iran-Contra" deals.
Great Games and the WWF
Prince Sadruddin has also been a key figure in Prince Philip's World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the British royal family's most important intelligence agency. Since its creation in 1961, he has been one of is primary funders, as has his nephew, the current leader of the sect. Through his London-based Aga Khan Foundation and the associated Geneva-based Bellerive Foundation, Prince Sadruddin has emerged as a top environmentalist. Here too, we find John Train, an activist in WWF Africa causes especially. Train's cousin Russell Train was president of the U.S. chapter of the WWF from its inception until his recent retirement.
In 1983, the WWF successfully persuaded the Pakistani government to create two national parks directly on the Afghan border in the northern region of Chitral. The remote region is not particularly reknowned either for its abundance of animal life or the existence of endangered species, and presumably the flow of eco-tourists into the region diminished during the Afghan War. Chitral is, however, reknowned for the quality and abundance of its opium poppy, which was assiduously cultivated by the mujahideen. It was also a primary staging area for smuggling arms into Afghanistan.
Around the same time that the WWF established its Pakistan parks, followers of the Aga Khan began pouring into Chitral, and the nearby regions of Gilgit and Hunza, also adjacent to Indian Kashmir. There, they have formed alliances with the British-steered Kashmiri independence movement, and are reportedly working on establishing an independent Ismaili State carved out of Pakistan.