Japanese authorities on Monday raided buildings used by the doomsday cult behind the 1995 deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, news reports said.
Some 300 officers of the Public Security Intelligence Agency were mobilised for the inspection of 27 offices and practice halls of the Aum Supreme Truth cult across the nation, according to Kyodo News.
The cult, founded by Shoko Asahara, has been divided into two groups, with its mainstream renamed Aleph and a splinter group being called Circle of Rainbow Light.
The Aum Supreme Truth cult, also known as Aum Shinrikyo, renamed itself Aleph in January 2000. The new name was part of a package of changes the cult announced just before Japan’s government were to decide whether Aum Shinrikyo should come under supervision in accordance with a law to regulate organizations that have committed mass murder.
Japanese news agency Kyodo says that according to the Public Security Intelligence Agency
Aleph acquired its largest facility in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward for about 100 million yen in March last year and is now trying to attract young followers via the Internet and yoga courses by hiding the cult name.
The agency believes the two groups are still influenced by 56-year-old Shoko Asahara, the AUM founder who is on death row.
Aum Shinrikyo has been placed under surveillance since 2000 under the Subversive Organizations Control Law, which entitles the agency to conduct inspections of Aum-related facilities.
Permission for extension of the surveillance period has been granted a number of times.
Monday’s inspections were in line with the surveillance law.
Study: Terror cult’s persistence key to WMD attack
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) recently released a major report, Aum Shinrikyo: Insights Into How Terrorists Develop Biological and Chemical Weapons, with never-before documented information on the terrorist group and its operations.
According to the Associated Press
the report says that the cult’s persistence was key to its success in making sarin nerve agent, which it used in its deadly 1995 attack on Tokyo commuters that killed 13 and injured more than 6,000.
“Terrorists need time; time will be used for trial and error …; trial and error entail risk and, in this case, provoked disruption; but Aum found paths to WMD, and other terrorists are likely to do the same,” said the report. […]
[Ex-Navy Secretary Richard] Danzig told terrorism experts and others gathered to discuss the report Thursday that experts needed to understand the cult’s quest for WMD in order to learn how to prevent others from doing the same thing.
More about Aum Shinrikyo
Aum Shinrikyo’s history of violence
How Aum justified violence
Life inside Aum Shinrikyo
Robert Jay Lifton describes Aum’s ideological totalism
How cult apologists, including J. Gordon Melton and James R. Lewis, defended Aum Shrinrikyo