A.I.C. Comprehensive Research Institute
Definition/Scope: Description: A cult established in 1987 by Shoko Asahara, Aum aims to take over Japan and then the world. Its organizational structure mimicks that of a nation-state, with "finance," "construction," and "science and technology" ministries. Approved as a religious entity in 1989 under Japanese law, the group ran candidates in a Japanese parliamentary election in 1990. Over time, the cult began to emphasize the imminence of the end of the world and stated that the United States would initiate "Armageddon" by starting World War III with Japan. The Japanese Government revoked its recognition of Aum as a religious organization in October 1995, but in 1997 a government panel decided not to invoke the Anti-Subversive Law against the group, which would have outlawed the cult. Activities: On 20 March 1995 Aum members simultaneously released sarin nerve gas on several Tokyo subway trains, killing 12 persons and injuring up to 6,000. The group was responsible for other mysterious chemical incidents in Japan in 1994. Its efforts to conduct attacks using biological agents have been unsuccessful. Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995, and he remained on trial facing seventeen counts of murder at the end of 1998. In 1997 and 1998 the cult resumed its recruiting activities in Japan and opened several commercial businesses. Maintains an Internet homepage that indicates Armageddon and anti-US sentiment remain a part of the cult’s world view. Strength: At the time of the Tokyo subway attack, the group claimed to have 9,000 members in Japan and up to 40,000 worldwide. Its current strength is unknown. Location/Area of Operation: Operates in Japan, but previously had a presence in Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States. Aum is a composite belief system that incorporates Asahara’s idiosyncratic interpretations of Yoga with facets of Buddhism and Christianity, and even the writings of Nostradamus. In 1992 Asahara published a book, within which he declared himself "Christ," Japan’s only fully enlightened master and the "Lamb of God." His purported mission was to take upon himself the sins of the world. Asahara said, he could transfer to his followers spiritual power and ultimately take away their sins and bad Karma. He also saw dark conspiracies everywhere promulgated by Jews, Freemasons and rival Japanese religions.
Broader Terms:Global Counterterrorism Task Force
Related Terms:A.I.C. Sogo Kenkyusho