Editor’s note: In his recent assignments in Korea, Japan, Kurdistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Denmark, WorldNetDaily international correspondent Anthony C. LoBaido gathered information for this analysis of the shadowy world of the Aum Shin Rikyo cult.
While the practice of traditional religions wanes in much of the West, one influential, violent cult headquartered in Japan — Aum Shin Rikyo — is raising eyebrows in intelligence agencies the world over.
The CIA, in fact is undertaking a global survey of apocalyptic cults in earnest. The intelligence agency says there are no less than 1,200 active cults on Earth. More than a quarter of them spread “doomsday” or “end times” dogma.
Apocalyptic cults are a serious concern, not only to the CIA, but to the FBI. Director Louis Freeh told Congress he feared some cults were willing to wage an “apocalyptic struggle” between what in their view were the spheres of good and evil.
Scores of cults have appeared on the scene in recent years. Who can forget Jim Jones and his Kool-Aid suicide cult in Guyana where 900 perished? Then came the Heaven’s Gate group, which committed mass suicide while waiting for a UFO they believed was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet. More than 70 members of the Order of the Solar Temple committed suicide in Switzerland, France and North America. The Aum group even has a cousin in the neo-Nazi Japanese Sukyo Mahikari cult, which believes in an end-times blood bath and chastisement.
But there is no cult quite like Aum Shin Rikyo — or “Supreme Truth.”
What is the ‘Supreme Truth’?
The cult’s tenets are based on ancient yoga and primitive Buddhism. They also worship the Hindu god Shiva, who holds the keys to both destruction and creation. Destruction and creation, in the cult’s view, are one in the same.
Aum Shin Rikyo is best known for its 1995 sarin nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway that killed 11 people and injured more than 5,000. The sarin was hidden in lunch boxes and drink containers that were displayed normally on the floor of the subway. At rush hour, the Aum cult members broke open the containers with sharp points they had affixed to the end of umbrellas they were carrying. The cultists then fled the trains, leaving behind the innocent to suffer. It was an excellent attack from a military precision point of view, but from a scientific and effectiveness standpoint, it was horribly executed. The dispersal method of the nerve gas was just a fraction of what it could have been had other means been used.
The victims of the attack suffered greatly. Symptoms included ocular pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, visual black outs, muscle weakness and projectile vomiting.
The sarin attack showed that Aum is no ordinary cult. It has raised its own army of computer programmers who have installed computer systems in almost 100 top Japanese corporations. No one knows what’s been installed along with the assigned data. Bugs? Root-access privileges? Remote transmitters and monitors, perhaps?
The cult is diverse in its business interests. It sells health food and runs yoga studios. More importantly, the cult has stolen, through backdoors it set up at various outposts in Japan’s military-industrial complex, secrets from the nation’s top programs in the fields of lasers, nuclear warfare, counter-intelligence and space-flight operations. Aum’s group is home to some of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world. It has raised over $1 billion in legitimate computer sales within the nation.
Moreover, its “M” division has done work for Japan’s version of the Pentagon, the national phone system and many top corporations. The cult is divided into various “ministries,” which in turn take their orders from the group’s Science and Technology Agency. Medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, drugs and weapons are all disciplines the cult has compartmentalized with various experts. Cult members also manufactured amphetamines, truth serum and LSD. Anthrax and sarin nerve gas were also developed in the group’s laboratories.
The leader of the group, Shoko Asahara, has learned to cruise Japan’s top universities to find new recruits to head his ambitious chemical, computer and other scientific projects. Strangely, these brilliant scientists would drink Asahara’s bath water and wear odd headgear to try to bring the group’s thoughts into harmony and alignment.
The CIA, Pentagon and other Western intelligence agencies have had trouble curbing the free exchange of microbes executed by Aum scientists. Such exchanges occur every day in the modern war on disease. More than 1,500 microbe banks worldwide can be sought out for millions of pure and readily available microorganisms, more than a few of which are lethal, even in small quantities.
Aum Shin Rikyo should have caught the attention of U.S. military intelligence and the CIA long before the Tokyo subway attack. The cult mounted no less than nine attacks on American assets in Japan in recent years. One Aum cult member spoke of biological attacks carried out at U.S. military bases that went undetected. Cultists sprayed pestilential microbes and germ toxins off the tops of buildings and the backs of trucks. They admitted they had targeted the Imperial Palace, the Japanese legislature and the U.S. military station at Yokosuka, home to the Navy’s 7th Fleet. The attacks failed only because Aum’s henchmen released microbes that were not virulent enough to kill.
Who is Shoko Asahara?
Chizuo Matsumoto was a nobody in the early 1980s. It was then that he became famous in New Age circles for his mystical journey through the Himalayas. He even earned the blessing of the Dalai Lama. The cult leader launched his Buddhist-oriented sect in 1987. The following year he had more than 20,000 followers. Though he is legally blind and not terribly bright, he did eventually assemble a separatist movement based at the foot of Mount Fuji. In time, he and his group’s dark activities would take center stage at the global G-7 (now G-8) summit.
Changing his name to Shoko Asahara, the Japanese cult leader taught that a great war was coming. According to terrorism expert Neil Livingstone, his plan was to manipulate America into attacking Japan, and then in the aftermath of Hiroshima-style destruction, he and his cult members would arise to rule over Japan. Asahara then began proclaiming to all who would listen that he was Jesus Christ. He even ran for parliament in 1990.
Asahara’s connections are global. He dispatched cult members to Zaire to try to obtain the Ebola virus. They also carried out a biological attack in the Australian Outback in 1993.
The sweeping growth — there are members in 20 nations — and military-style organization of the group concern Western intelligence agents, which are leery that there is more to Aum Shin Rikyo than meets the eyes.
For example, the group has ties to Russia, traditionally an enemy of Japan. The truce signed at Theodore Roosevelt’s “Summer White House” at Oyster Bay, Long Island, at the end of the Russo-Japanese War was but a blip on the screen of long-standing hostility between the two nations. Technically, they are still at war over the Kurill Islands, circa World War II. During the Cold War, the Russians likely would have enjoyed watching Japan’s financial might minimized. China is also a historical enemy of Japan, as are both South and North Korea, due to Japan’s war crimes record from the World War II occupation of those nations.
The Aum cult has a website in the Russian language and Asahara made a “salvation tour” to Russia during the 1990s. In late 1991, an Aum cultist had a meeting with Oleg Lobov, the chief at the Russian Security Council. The following year, Kiyohide Hayakawa, a top cult weapons expert roamed free in Russia, buying up weapons and advisers. The cult set up a front company that was staffed in part by Russian special forces, elite soldiers from the 9th, or “Deviata,” Division.
Maj. Vasily Bure, who served with the 9th Division at the Simferopol military base in Ukraine, told WorldNetDaily that his fellow soldiers would have been outraged to learn that the Aum Shin Rikyo cult was getting assistance from the Russian military.
“We were directly controlled by the Russian president, and often we served as bodyguards for our nation’s leaders. We were proud to serve our county in this manner,” Bure told WorldNetDaily from his posh new office in Nicosia, Cyprus, where he runs an offshore banking company.
“Our troops were the best of the best, not glooba [Russian for ‘stupid’]. They were huge men, what we call ‘medviet’ or ‘bears.’ Everyone wanted to join up with us. Alpha force, commandos, counter-terrorist troops and even the Vympel Special Forces. The Vympel troops are organized only to wage guerilla war in foreign nations, to created massive tactical confusion, poison blood and water supplies, take down power grids and oil reserves and so forth.”
Cults R Us
The existence of various Western religious groups that infiltrated Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall greatly angered Russia’s leaders in the early to mid-1990s. Gen. Alexander Lebed, who ran the first war in Chechnya, railed against evangelizing groups like the Mormons. Many members of the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, were greatly angered when President Boris Yeltsin considered a bill that would limit the activities of foreign missionaries and recognized the Russian Orthodox Church as sort of an official state church.
Aum Shin Rikyo, however, was not deterred. They launched their Russian language website and dispatched Asahara to the Motherland.
Then-President Yeltsin expressed his desire “to protect the moral and spiritual health of the nation and raise reliable barriers to radical sects which inflict great damage on the physical and mental health of our citizens.”
Yet despite the involvement of Yeltsin and other top Russian leaders in addressing the infiltration of cults into Russia, almost 50 of Asahara’s men received military training from the elite Vympel special forces.
Said British MI-6 intelligence agent Bryan Hampton: “This, of course, shows that the Russians are still fomenting terrorism in foreign nations. Everything is for sale in Russia — satellite photos, advisers, nuclear and biological weapons, bodyguards, gems, oil — you name it.”
Still at large
As for Aum Shin Rikyo, some members received a death sentence for the sarin attack — the first ever handed down for such a crime in Japan. Others were sentenced to prison. The cult, however, still remains at large both in Japan and overseas. It remains to be seen how successful both Western intelligence agencies and Japan will be in mitigating the activities of those who follow the “Supreme Truth.”