Watch on Aum cult extended

Asahi News (Japan), Jan. 23, 2003

The Aum Shinrikyo cult predictably objected to a Public Security Examination Commission decision Thursday to extend government surveillance of its activities for three more years beyond Feb. 1.

The doomsday cult will file suit in Tokyo District Court to nullify the extended surveillance, Aum officials said.

The extension was approved because the cult is deemed capable of carrying out more indiscriminate mass murder, in line with the doctrine of its founder, Chizuo Matsumoto, 47, who calls himself Shoko Asahara, commission officials said.

The cult, now called Aleph, is branded as the origin of two instances of indiscriminate mass murder, in 1994 and again in 1995, through the spread of sarin nerve gas. A total of 19 people died in the attacks, and nearly 4,000 people were made ill.

After deciding on the extension, the commission immediately notified the cult and the Public Security Investigation Agency, an affiliate of the Justice Ministry.

Matsumoto is on trial for murder and other crimes.

The watch is based upon the Diet’s enactment of a 1999 law authorizing surveillance on groups implicated in indiscriminate mass murder.

A three-year watch on Aum was authorized in January 2000, and agency investigators and police have had access to cult facilities.

The cult must report its membership and assets every three months to the Public Security Investigation Agency.

The agency gave these reasons for extending surveillance:

* Matsumoto, accused mastermind of the two sarin attacks, still influences Aum activities.

* Matsumoto and five other cult leaders who carried out the sarin attacks are still Aum members; some are officers.

* Four Aum officers at the time of the attacks are still cult officers, including Fumihiro Joyu, now the Aum leader.

* Aum still embraces a dangerous doctrine that encourages murder.

* Evidence will show Aum is still dangerous and capable of indiscriminate mass murders.

* Aum retains its closed and deceptive character.

The agency said there are 88 Aum facilities operating in 16 prefectures.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 24, 2003.
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