Anniversary of cult’s sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway commemorated

The 16th anniversary of a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system was commemorated Sunday with a moment of silence.

The gas attack was carried out by members of Aum Shinrikyo, a destructive doomsday cult.

Long before the terrorist attack the so-called ‘New Religious Movement‘ already had a lengthy history of crimes. Yet after its nerve gas attack the cult was nevertheless defended by naive cult apologists more concerned about ‘religious freedom’ than about the victims of such cults.

In his book, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism, Robert Jay Lifton explained the cult’s penchant for violence:

No truth was more central to Aum than the principle that world salvation could be achieved only by bringing about the deaths of just about everyone on this earth. Disciples described their embrace of this vision and their understanding of its evolutions from Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian doctrine, but they always assumed that the world-ending violence would be initiated by others, not by the cult itself.

Yet Asahara’s idiosyncratic version of these traditions came to focus on the Buddhust concept of poa, which, in his distorted use, meant killing for the sake of your victims: that is, to provide them with a favorable rebirth. One can speak, then, of a weapon-hungry cult with a doctrine of altruistic murder – murder ostensibly intended to enhance a victim’s immortality. The doctrine sanctified not only violence against the world at large but the killing of numerous individuals who ran afoul of the guru’s aspirations.

Japanese police in December 2010 confirmed that a total of 6,583 people fell victim to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and seven other crimes committed by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

Last December authorities in Japan confirmed that a total of 6,583 people fell victim to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and seven other crimes committed by Aum Shinrikyo.

Earlier this month the death sentence for Masami Tsuchiya, a former senior member Aum Shinrikyo cult who was convicted over a series of crimes committed by group members, became final.

Tsuchiya, 46, is the 11th Aum member to be sentenced to death. He received the death sentence in January 2004 for playing a key role in the murder of 13 people in crimes committed by the sect, including two separate deadly sarin gas attacks, as well as the murder of a young man.

The cult’s leader, Shoko Asahara, was sentenced to death in February 2004. Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, lost his final appeal to overturn his death sentence in September 2006.

Research resources on Aum Shinrikyo

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday March 21, 2011.
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