Arrested cultists followers of AUM doomsday leader

Former AUM Shinrikyo members recently arrested for illegally obtaining other people’s family registers were part of a splinter group that was set up to follow the teaching of its killer guru, Shoko Asahara, the Mainichi has learned.

Investigators at the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Division believe two of the three arrested, including Yukio Ishitani, who was a member of AUM’s “Ministry of Intelligence,” were acting separately from Aleph, the current incarnation of the doomsday cult.

Ishitani, of Utsunomiya, and one of his accomplices officially left AUM Shinrikyo in June 1995 after the cult carried out the poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

However, recent raids on locations related to the pair, including their Tochigi Prefecture-based gravestone company and their houses, unearthed a photo of Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, as well as numerous videotapes and texts used for training of cultists. Several other employees of the company are also former members of AUM.

Police believe Ishitani set up the company as a front for the splinter group. Investigators said in documents seized in another AUM-related case, they found a note saying that under Asahara’s orders, the cult provided 10 million yen to Ishitani in 1995 to organize a new group.

Officials of the Public Security Division said they are monitoring several AUM-related groups in Tokyo, which are acting independently from Aleph. Some of the groups are reportedly following the teachings of Asahara, while others parted ways with Aleph because of disagreements with Aleph leader Fumihiro Joyu.

These splinter groups could intensify their activities before the sentencing of Asahara in February next year, police added.

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