26 NOVEMBER 2013
The Aum Shinrikyo yoga cult – A Case Study on the Aum Shinrikyo
JOHN SOPKO & ALAN EDELMAN (Minority Staff)
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, this week the Subcommittee begins the first in a series of hearings concerning the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological and nuclear. These weapons may be the most serious threat to our Nation’s national security in light of growing evidence that some terrorist groups and rogue states have already acquired and others are actively seeking such weapons for their arsenals.
Six years ago, in 1989, this Subcommittee, in. conjunction with the Committee on Government Affairs, held four days of hearings on the spread of chemical and biological weapons. The hearings were, to a great extent, spurred by revelations from the battle fields of the Middle East where both the Iranians and Iraqis used chemical weapons. At those hearings we learned not only of the devastating effects of these weapons, but also of the rapid rate at which these weapons have begun to proliferate throughout the world.
At those hearings, the specter of terrorist groups using chemical or biological weapons was only hypothetical. Although there had been sporadic reporting of such groups showing some interest in these devices, up to that time there had been no credible evidence of terrorist attack occurring in the United States was also more hypothetical than real. Combined efforts of our Nation’s intelligence and law enforcement communities had thwarted such groups from attempting what was then viewed as the “unthinkable”.
Unfortunately, much has changed since 1989. As we all know from recent events in the United States, the destructive intentions of fanatical individuals and groups has become an actual [error, words missing] ions grade uranium. And just seven months ago, on March 20th, we witnessed the first major use of chemical weapons by terrorists with the gassing attack of the Tokyo subway system which killed 12 and injured over 5,000 innocent passengers.
Commentators throughout the world now agree that these events are of major international significance. The proverbial genie has been released from its bottle. In a quantum leap, terrorists responsible for the American and Japanese events have planted ideas and provided roadmaps for others to attack American domestic targets as well as to use such weapons against innocent civilian populations worldwide. As Bruce Hoffman of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland recently stated: “We’ve definitely crossed a threshold. This is the cutting edge of high-tech terrorism for the year 2000 and beyond. It’s the nightmare scenario that people have quietly talked about for years coming true.”
It is in this context that Senator Nunn last year directed the Minority Staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to initiate an investigation into the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including chemical, biological, and nuclear. His request was a natural progression from the work done by the Staff in 1994 relating to the meteoric growth of organized criminal activity in the former Soviet Union. That inquiry raised the specter of criminal involvement in the theft and distribution of fissile material from the Former Soviet Union. It [error, words missing] organized crime in Russia, Germany, and the United States to testify about their common problems and concerns. (See: International Organized Crime And Its Impact On the United States, May 25, 1994, S. Hrg. 103-899)
The Staff initially began its investigation by focusing on the possibility of diversion of nuclear materials from the Former Soviet Union. A hearing on issues related to this problem is planned for later in the year. However, recent events from Japan overtook the investigation and, last June, Senator Nunn redirected the Staff to focus upon the ongoing activities of the Aum Shinrikyo as a case study of what can happen when a fanatical group with financial resources obtains sophisticated technical abilities and decide to utilize weapons of mass destruction in furthering its goals.
In the course of the last five months, the Minority Staff conducted hundreds of interviews of both government and private individuals. The Staff received both classified and unclassified briefings from almost every major United States law enforcement and intelligence agency as well as many
elements of our military and civilian agencies. The Staff was also briefed by numerous foreign agencies including officials of the Japanese, German, Russian, Ukrainian and Australian governments. In addition, two months ago, the Staff traveled to Japan, Russia, Ukraine and Germany to obtain first hand information concerning the activities of the [error, words missing] subpoenaed records from the cult’s New York office, and examined documents from corporations which had business relations with the cult or its corporate entities.
The Minority Staff investigation was greatly assisted by Senator Roth and Stephen Levin, Michael Bopp and Ian Brzezinski of his staff. In addition, the Subcommittee Staff appreciates the cooperation and assistance provided by the various agencies of the United States and foreign governments contacted in the course of this inquiry. The Staff would like to especially acknowledge the assistance of the United States Customs Service and Central Intelligence Agency for providing details to the Subcommittee to assist in this complicated investigation.
II: Preliminary Findings & Questions
The Staff’s investigation of the activities of the Aum Shinrikyo found evidence to suggest that the Aum cult was a clear danger to not only the Japanese government but also to the security interests of the United States and that this danger, although lessened significantly by the actions of Japanese authorities, is still present.
Although the findings may initially sound farfetched and nearly science fictional, the actions of the Aum and the facts corroborated from multiple sources by the Staff create a terrifying picture of a deadly mixture of the religious zealotry of groups such as the Branch Davidians, the anti- government agenda of the U.S. militia movements a [error, words missing]
The cult was extremely large with approximately 40,000 to 60,000 members worldwide including a membership estimated to be three times larger in Russia than in Japan.
The cult was extremely wealthy with more than $1 billion in assets.
The cult actively recruited scientists and technical experts in Japan, Russia and elsewhere in order to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The cult was planning and apparently had the means to directly assault the leadership of the government of Japan.
The cult had produced chemical weapons, including toxic chemical agents such as Sarin, VX, phosgene and sodium cyanide and had successfully deployed sarin on at least two occasions biological weapons, including anthrax, botulism and ‘Q’ fever and may have actually attempted at least one unsuccessful deployment of a biological weapon on the innocent populace of Tokyo.
The cult attempted to assassinate the chief law enforcement officer for Japan as well as the Governor for the prefecture of Tokyo.
The cult had successfully infiltrated various levels of the Japanese government and industry including elements of its law enforcement and military.
The cult regularly used murder and kidnapping to silence its enemies in Japan.
The cult acquired conventional armaments and attempted to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their technologies from the former Soviet Union to utilize in their planned attack on the Japanese and United States governments.
The cult was also actively engaged in acquiring sensitive technologies in the United States to also assist it in weaponization – – the full extent of which is still not fully known.
The cult leadership was ruthless, cunning and fully willing to utilize any and all means, including the killing of hundreds of thousands of [error, words missing] from which the cult would arise as the supreme power in Japan.
The activities of the cult were and continue to be of a security concern to the Secret Service for the protection of the President of the United States.
This cult, its activities, and intentions were not fully appreciated by United States law enforcement and intelligence services until after the Tokyo gassing incident on March 20, 1995. As one senior U. S. law enforcement official stated — “they weren’t on our radar screen.”
In a large sense, the Aum incident is a remarkable yet frightening case study of the threat modern terrorism poses to all industrialized nations. It raises a series of difficult questions about domestic and international preparedness as we enter the next millennium. It serves as a harsh wake-up call for the United States which until recently was rather complacent about the threat of terrorism. Some of the issues these hearings are meant [error, words missing] university trained scientists in Japan and elsewhere and what are the implications for other Western industrialized nations?
How could a purported pacifist religious group accumulate such technology and weaponry in a relatively short period of time without raising the attention of Western intelligence and law enforcement agencies?
Was this cult linked to or supported by other groups, whether political, criminal or intelligence?
What did U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies know about the capabilities and intentions of this group before the Tokyo incident?
Could such an event happen here?
If so, are we prepared for such an occurrence from an intelligence, law enforcement and public health perspectives?
In an attempt to answer these questions, the Staff has prepared the following summary of the Aum’s activities. Much is still not known about all of their interests, especially here in the United States and in Russia. Most of the trials in Japan have not been completed and the evidence presented in those trials has not been widely disseminated outside of Japan. To the Staff’s knowledge, none of the defendants have been debriefed by U.S. officials. Despite this, much can be learned from what the Staff was able to uncover in its the following account with multiple foreign and domestic sources including government agencies, current and former cult members, outside experts and subpoenaed documents. In many instances the Staff has obtained first hand accounts and original documentary evidence from government and private sources. Due to the sensitivity and uniqueness of some of the material obtained by the Staff, we have withheld or otherwise concealed the sources of some of the material. Those documents used by the Staff which are especially sensitive have been maintained as sealed exhibits of the Subcommittee and are available for the Members and their staff to review.
III. Background of the Cult
A. The Early Years
1. The Master Asahara: Humble Beginnings
The Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) was founded in 1987 by Shoko Asahara, a forty-year old legally blind former yoga teacher. Asahara was born on March 2, 1955 as Chizuo Matsumoto in Yatsushiro, Japan. He was the fourth son of seven children – five boys and two girls. His family was poor, his father being a tatami (mat) maker. He was educated in local schools for the blind because of infantile glaucoma. He left home at the age of six and lived in a school dormitory from then until graduating from high school. After graduating from the mamoto Prefectural School for the Blind, Asahara moved to Tokyo where he unsuccessfully sought enrollment in Tokyo University. He apparently graduated from a junior college in March 1975, and later received some informal training as an acupuncturist.
Little more is known of his early years. He apparently married a local college student in 1977 and has six children with his wife, Kazuko. Although his followers claim that before founding his cult he traveled widely in the East in the pursuit of religious training, the Staff was unable to confirm this. The Staff did corroborate that Asahara apparently worked in acupuncture for some time and also operated a pharmacy in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Police reports indicate he was arrested on suspicion of violating Japanese pharmaceutical laws in 1982 for selling unregulated medicines.
The Staff was unable to determine the disposition of this arrest but was advised that he was never jailed for the offense. However, as a result, his pharmacy went into bankruptcy shortly after his arrest.
In 1977 Asahara began the study of yoga and in 1984 he formed a company called the Aum Shinsen-no kai which was a yoga school and publishing house. From various Aum publications it appears that around 1986 he changed his own name to Shoko Asahara and, in 1987, the name of his yoga group to the Aum Shinrikyo — a Sanskrit derivative literally meaning [error, words missing] or supreme truth.”
2. Religious Recognition: A Turning Point
In August, 1989, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government granted the Aum official religious corporation status. This law provided the Aum various privileges including massive tax breaks and de facto immunity from official oversight and prosecution. The Staff was repeatedly told that this was a significant event in the development of the Aum’s deadly activities. Under the Japanese Religious Corporation Law, after a-group is recognized, authorities are not permitted to investigate its “religious activities or doctrine”. This is broadly interpreted to cover almost everything the religious group does, including what would normally be viewed as “for profit” corporate activities. Although the police could investigate a religious group for criminal acts, the Staff was told by Japanese cult experts and government officials that in practice this would be difficult if not impossible to do because of the law and the government’s reluctance to investigate religions.
Ironically, the United States is partially responsible for the broad interpretation given to the Religious Corporation Law. The law was enacted in 1947 as a reaction to excesses against religious groups by the former Japanese Imperial government. With strong American influence in post-war Japan, this law was enacted to protect religious beliefs from government interference. Since its enactment approximately 200,000 religious groups have been recognized. Their membership actually exceeds the population o Japan by almost 70 million due to multiple memberships.
Although the vast majority of these religious sects are law abiding and well respected, the Staff was told that there is effectively no government oversight over the activities of any of these groups even though some operate tax exempt “for profit” businesses and a few control their own political parties.
The Staff learned the Aum made their recognition as a religious group a high priority. They embarked upon an aggressive lobbying campaign which included picketing the offices of the agency that was to make the decision. One Aum expert who had been following their activities for some time called their efforts “scandalous” and totally out of character with other religious groups. Public sources have alleged that to ensure their registration, the Aum also aggressively lobbied local politicians to put pressure on the Tokyo government officials to approve their application.
The Staff was told that this quirk in Japanese law was a significant factor in the development of the Aum cult. With its registration as a legally recognized religion, the Aum’s activities and character dramatically changed. Its net worth grew from less than 430 million yen (approximately $4.3 million) when recognized in 1989 to more than 100 billion yen ($1 billion) by the time of the Tokyo incident six years later. Likewise, its membership rose dramatically after legalization. From merely a score of members in 1984 it grew, by its own accounts, to 10,000 members in 1992 and about 50,000 worldwide in 1995. And, from one office in Japan in 1984 it expanded to over 30 branches in over six countries.
Starting in 1989 the cult also became more aggressive and dangerous. With its dramatic growth, the Staff found evidence of increased complaints from parents and family members of Aum recruits alleging kidnappings and other physical assaults by the cult. A number of anti-Aum groups were started at about this time by family members of cults.
Those that formed these groups complained that they themselves became victims of assaults and harassment. For example, as we will describe in a later section, the first Aum murders occurred within months of the sect being granted religious status when in November of 1989 cult members kidnapped and murdered a prominent Yokohama lawyer, Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and their one year old son. Prior to his disappearance, Mr. Sakamoto had represented many of these anti-Aum groups.
The Staff was told that with their protective religious status in place, the cult felt so confident that they were immune from government interference that they decided to silence Sakamoto. After successfully doing so, the lack of any government response, we were told, apparently emboldened the Cult to commit even more horrible and blatant attacks upon their perceived enemies in Japan. As we now know, this “immunity” d not last. Since the Tokyo incident, the Japanese police have arrested about 400 Aum members, including most of their hierarchy.
3. Political Failure: Another Turning Point
Another event that the Staff learned was important in the changing aspect of the Aum cult concerned their brief foray into politics. The year after they became a registered religion, Asahara announced to his members that the Aum was going to run a slate of candidates in the Japanese Diet election in February 1990. Asahara and 24 other members of his inner circle ran for parliament under the banner of the Aum’s own party – the Shinrito.
The Staff was told by former Aum members that Asahara was personally very confident that both he and the other Shinrito candidates would win their elections. However, all lost badly. Asahara himself only received a mere 1,700 votes out of approximately 500,000 votes cast. To add to his humiliation, former Aum members told the Staff that Asahara did not even get all the votes of his own followers who numbered well in excess of the 1,500 votes he obtained.
It is almost universally held that the 1990 election defeat was the final turning point for the direction the Aum would eventually take. Although they had already committed crimes, including murder before the 1990 election, after their defeat the Aum gave up on all legal pretensions and turned away from normal interaction with the larger Japanese society. From then on the rhetoric of Armageddon and paranoia became incessant. Cult experts in Japan told the Staff that in hindsight it appears that from 1990 onward, the die apparently was cast for a violent confrontation with the people and government of Japan.
B. The Cult’s Beliefs
1. East Meets West: A Levitating Terrorist
The Aum Shinrikyo is grounded in Buddhism but with a strong mixture of assorted Eastern and Western mystic beliefs including the works of the 16th Century French astronomer, Nostradamus. The religion preaches that there are a number of steps or levels of consciousness that a member can reach through the teachings of “the Spirit of Truth, His Holiness the Master Shoko Asahara”. Aum literature claims that only one person, Shoko Asahara, has attained the highest level of consciousness and exists in the state of Nirvana. The Staff interviewed one former member of the Aum who had been recruited because of his knowledge of the religious teachings of Buddha. He told the Staff that for a period he was tasked with writing all of the “divine teachings” of Shoko Asahara who, in his opinion, knew very little about Buddhism in his own right.
The Aum faith also included a number of religious views surrounding reincarnation” as well as Tibetan beliefs in extrasensory experiences including clairvoyance, “seeing through walls” and “levitation”. Asahara claimed to frequently levitate and fly around rooms. The only photographic evidence the Staff reviewed concerning these flights appeared to be crude forgeries. Even to the untrained eye they show that rather than levitating, Asahara was probably bouncing on a device such as a trampoline to become airborne.
2. Aum Armageddon: Shiva Meets Sarin
The Staff was also told by authorities that the cult was fixated with the Hindu god ‘Shiva”. This was significant since “Shiva” is the “god of destruction” thereby explaining in part the violent nature of the cult and its particular emphasis on “Armageddon”. Although this concept is widely known in Western religions, “Armageddon” or the “end of the world” is not a normal tenet of Buddhism or other Eastern religions popular in Japan. However, it was a core element of the Aum religion with salvation only coming at the end of Armageddon to those who adopted the Aum faith. Asahara foretold salvation for those Aum members who have attained a higher state through the teachings of the “Supreme Master’– Asahara. Asahara also preached salvation even to those of his members who perished in the predicted Armageddon since they were assured a special status in their reincarnated state.
The Staff was told by Japanese government officials that in 1989 Asahara published a major religious treatise on Armageddon called The Destruction of the World. In it Asahara apparently described a world- wide calamity based upon a purported war between Japan and the United States which would start sometime in 1997. Asahara based his predictions on “The Prophecies of Nostradamus’, the “Revelations of St. John” from the New Testament, Buddhist scriptures, and other personal revelations.
Again in 1993, Asahara publicly reiterated his predictions of Armageddon. In a book entitled Shivering Predictions by Shoko Asahara, Asahara stated that: “From now until the year 2000, a series of violent phenomena filled with fear that are too difficult to describe will occur. Japan will turn into waste land as a result of a nuclear weapons’ attack. This will occur from 1996 through January 1998. An alliance centering on the United States will attack Japan. In large cities in Japan, only one-tenth of the population will be able to survive. Nine out of ten people will die.”
Later that year in another book published by the Aum in July’ entitled Second Set of Predictions by Shoko Asahara, he provided further revelations concerning these wars. He claimed that a Third World War would soon break out. He wrote that: “I am certain that in 1997, Armageddon will break out. By ‘break out’ I mean that war will erupt and that it will not end soon. Violent battles will continue for a couple of years. During that time, the world population will shrink markedly…. “A Third World War will break out. I stake my religious future on this prediction. I am sure it will occur.”
Within days after the subway attack in March 1995, Asahara, in a video message wherein he denied complicity in the incident, further explained the perceived roe of his cult in Armageddon: “We act on the basis of prophecies. In 1997 and 1998 most of Japan’s large cities will suffer major damage in a war between the U. S. and Japan. Then the Japanese economy will collapse. Japanese assets will be lost, reviving the nation after this collapse is one goal of ours … salvation activities.”
3. Armageddon in 1995: A Threat to the United States?
Although most of Asahara’s prophecies predicted the Armageddon in 1997 or 1998, documents recently seized by the Japanese police from Aum facilities indicate that sometime starting in 1994 the date for this cataclysmic event was moved up to November of 1995. The Staff was told by Japanese government sources that they were concerned from analyzing cult teachings that the Aum may have “decided to speed things up’ by instigating the predicted war between Japan and the United States in November, 1995.
The new November timetable for Armageddon appears to have coincided with public statements by Asahara that he and his people were already the victims of gas attacks by Japanese and U.S. military aircraft. In a public sermon delivered by Asahara at his Tokyo headquarters on April 27, 1994, he claimed that: “With the poison gas attacks that have continued since 1988, we are sprayed by helicopters and other aircraft wherever we go… The use of poison gases such as sarin were clearly indicated. The hour of my death has been foretold. The gas phenomenon has already happened. Perhaps the nuclear bomb will come next.” (Emphasis Added)
The date of this speech is significant since it predates by two months the June 27th sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Japan. This event, which left 7 dead publicly denied any involvement in any gas attacks, evidence developed after the Tokyo incident from arrested cult members clearly implicates the cult in the Matsumoto incident. Juxtaposed, the prediction of the new Armageddon in November with the discussion of sarin leaves a clear impression that the Aum may have been planning a gas attack in November 1995.
The November prediction is troubling as it coincides with the fact that President Clinton and 17 other world leaders are scheduled to gather in Osaka, Japan for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on November 16th – 19th. The Staff has not discovered a link between these two events. We have no credible evidence that the Aum planned an attack directed at the APEC gathering. The timing of the two events, however, raises some concern.
Just two weeks ago, the Japanese press reported that the Japanese police have launched one of their nation’s largest security details to protect the November 16-19 Asia-Pacific conference. The articles specifically note that the police are guarding against a possible nerve gas attack similar to the sarin attack in Tokyo. They aim that the Osaka police have stocked up on gas masks and chemical protection suits in order to guard against any such attack. Takaji Kunimatsu, the Commissioner General of the Japanese National Police Agency, is also quoted as ordering all of his police commanders to be on “full alert”, saying: “Particularly after the subway incident, it has become extremely difficult to predict who would do what…” Kunimatsu is also said to have called on all senior police chiefs to step up their investigations of the Aum sect since “the truth of the sect remains unclear”.
Concern that the Aum may have sought out United States targets is fueled by the rampant anti-American rhetoric historically used by the cult. As early as 1993, Asahara accused the United States of planning the attack on Japan that would foreshadow the Armageddon. The cult’s literature also disparaged the United States, blaming the West for using the rampant materialism and internationalism that the cult claims is at the root of the current problems with Japan. The cult has repeatedly accused the United States of masterminding and of carrying out a series of chemical attacks on it. These accusations go back to early 1994 and the cult produced a 1994 video tape entitled Slaughtered Lambs that allegedly documents these attacks.
The anti-American rhetoric became more personalized in January, 1995 when the cult’s monthly organ, Vajrayana Sacca printed a series of anti-American and anti-Japanese government articles. The Staff obtained one article called Will Clinton Be Assassinated? In which the cult wrote: “Clinton will be without doubt a one-term president. At best, he will not be re-elected. At worse, it would not be strange if he were assassinated, making
[error, words missing] That same publication also contains an article raising the specter of planned terrorist assassinations of various Japanese officials. A number of prominent Japanese officials were listed as “blackhearted aristocrats who had sold their souls to the devil”. Included were Daisaku Idoda, the Honorary Chairman of Sokagakkai, a Japanese religious group; Yukio Aoshima, the Governor of Tokyo; and Ochiro Ozawa, the Secretary General of the New Frontier Party of Japan. Ozawa, was especially singled out and placed at the head of the list as “the king of darkness” for his close ties with the United States. The Staff was told by a number of Japanese sources that President Clinton was also named on another similar list prepared by the cult; but to date we have not been able to find this document and list.
Some credence can be given to this being a list of potential assassination targets. On May 16, 1995, on the evening of Asahara’s arrest, Tokyo Governor Aoshima, who was prominently mentioned on the January list, was the recipient of a mail bomb. Although he was not injured, his secretary lost a number of fingers when the bomb detonated outside the Governor’s office.
Unconfirmed press reports assert that the cult was targeting the United States. Japanese Public Television (NHK) issued a story in mid-June, 1995, that it had obtained portions of the confession of the cult’s chief physician, Ikuo Hayashi, in which he admitted the cult was planning, as early as November of [error 2 words missing] to mail packages of sarin to unnamed locations in the United States. It quoted Hayashi as saying that the Intelligence Chief of the cult, Yoshihiro Inoue, wanted Hayashi to travel to the United States to receive the parcels for further delivery. The broadcast indicated that the plan was never carried out but that Inoue still planned to use sarin gas in America. Both Hayashi and Inoue have been charged along with others for murder for the March 20th Tokyo subway attack.
The Staff learned that the cult’s Intelligence Ministry Chief Inoue kept a number of detailed diaries or notebooks in which he jolted down random thoughts and plans concerning the Aum. These notes were seized by the police. Allegedly, Inoue wrote down a plan to carry out some kind of indiscriminate terrorism in major U.S. cities, including New York.
The terrorist attacks were to be similar to the Tokyo sarin gassing. Although some portions of these notes have been corroborated, those specific sections describing the New York attack have to date not been confirmed. Although the Japanese media claim that the police have possession of these sections that describe the New York plot, the Staff, to date, has been unable to obtain access to them.
It is a vexing task to quantify the level of threat a group such as the Aum presents to U.S. security. As this report indicates, the Aum was highly dangerous and extensively erratic and unpredictable, obtaining much of their direction from the “prophecies” and rambling of a charismatic madman. However, it is clear that a core belief of the Aum was that the United States was an enemy of the Aum and that a war with the United States was a central component of their prediction of Armageddon. Although no specific threat against President Clinton has been documented, the Staff has learned that both the United States Secret Service and the Japanese government take such a threat seriously and have taken security precautions.
4. Aum’s Other Enemy: The Jews
The Aum was also virulently anti-Semitic. As an example, in a 95-page publication issued two months before the Tokyo incident, the Aum attacked the Jews as the ‘hidden enemy”. This special edition of the Vajrayana Sacca was entitled Manual of Fear and began with a declaration of war on the Jewish people: “On behalf of the earth’s 5.5 billion people, Vajrayana Sacca hereby formally declares war on the ‘world shadow government’ that murders untold numbers of people and, while hiding behind sonorous phrases and high sounding principles, plans to brainwash and control the rest. Japanese awake! The enemy’s plot has long since torn our lives to shreds.”
The tract quotes liberally from a number of anti-Semitic writings and blames the Jewish people, for among other things, the mass murders in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, the massacres by Serbs and Croatians in Bosnia, and the tribal warfare in Rwanda. It claims that the Jews are planning similar massacres in other areas of the world in order to carry out a sinister plot to reduce the world’s population by three billion people by the year 2,000. The Aum also has linked the Jews to its other enemies within Japanese society — the “black aristocracy’ of Japanese “internationalists” including a number of current and former Japanese politicians and statesmen.
Although the Staff found no evidence of specific attacks upon Jews or Jewish cultural, religious, business or political institutions, this may have been more the simple result of the absence of such targets in Japan. On the other hand, the Aum did target for its rhetoric those it called “Jewish Japanese”. These people were not Jewish but rather cosmopolitan Japanese, government officials and members of the business establishment in Tokyo who in the Aum’s view exemplified the internationalism and materialism that the Aum hated. Eventually, these “Jewish Japanese” became the victims of the Aum’s indiscriminate Matsumoto and Tokyo sarin attacks.
IV. The Operation of the Aum
A. Membership d Recruitment: Large and Highly Technical 1995
The cult claimed a membership as high as 65,000, the large majority of whom, 30,000 – 50,000, were in Russia. These numbers have not been publicly corroborated by the Japanese government although most of the officials and Aum experts the Staff interviewed placed the worldwide membership in the 40,000 to 60,000 range.
Despite the recent spate of publicity surrounding the criminal acts of the cult and the arrest of approximately 400 Aum activists by Japanese authorities, there has not been a dramatic loss in membership in Japan. Since declared illegal by Russian authorities, Aum membership in Russia has declined drastically. The Staff has prepared a list of the most important cult members, attached as Appendix A.
In the course of our inquiry, it became clear that the Aum included among its followers many highly-trained graduates in the sciences and technological fields from some of Japan’s leading universities. They included members with degrees in fields such as medicine, biochemistry, architecture, biology, and genetic engineering. A distinctive feature of this cult was that many were young intellectuals in their 20’s and 30’s who had dropped out of Japanese society to join this doomsday cult.
Among some of Japan’s “best and brightest” who joined the cult included a former researcher of the National Space Development Agency of Japan, an expert on chemical weapons who majored in organic physics at Tsukuba University, a researcher who studied elementary particles, a reporter with a major Japanese newspaper, a physicist from Osaka University, a cardiac specialist, and an organic chemist, to name a few.
The Japan Times recently released a detailed description of a number of the key members of the Aum hierarchy which offers an excellent view of the expertise of this cult. It reported the following:
Hideo Murai, (36 (deceased) – Minister of Science and Technology
After graduating from the physics department of Osaka University he entered graduate school specializing in physics and started working for Kobe Steel Ltd’s research and development department.
Kiyohide Hayakawa (45) – Minister of Construction
Held a master’s degree in architecture from Osaka University.
Fumihiro Joyu (32) – Public Relations Minister
Graduate of Waseda University with a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. Was an engineer at the National Space Development Agency before joining cult.
Yoshinobu Aoyama (35) – Justice Minister
Son of a wealthy family in Osaka. Graduate of Kyoto University Law School and youngest person to pass national bar exam.
Masami Tsuchiya (30) – Chief Scientist
Held a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Tskuba University. Reportedly joined the cult because it had better research facilities than his university.
Not all of the Aum members had such backgrounds. A number of the members were poorly educated and from working backgrounds. Many were young and rebellious. The Staff was told by two former cult members that these working class members had been specifically recruited for work details to help in the construction of the various Aum factories and also for the Aum’s military forces. Nevertheless, the Staff discovered that the vast ma
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It is difficult to understand the Aum’s attraction to such an educated audience. This is still the subject of much debate in Japan and has been the subject of numerous articles and editorials in the Japanese media.
Regardless of the reasons for their success, the Aum was extremely successful in its recruitment drives. They were very aggressive in their recruitment activities and even had an entire division called the New Followers Agency to perform this task. Beyond rudimentary techniques such as leafleting and street corner proselytizing, the Aum used a diverse blend of recruiting methods. They used their classes on yoga, herbal healing and meditation on campuses to recruit. They also recruited through their numerous computer stores, book stores and noodle shops. Additionally, they broadcast their message to Japan through their Russian radio -station and used it and other radio and television shows in Moscow to recruit in Russia.
A number of Aum experts contacted by the Staff, contend that the Aum was successful not only for all of the above reasons but also because of their use of psychedelic and mind- altering drugs in the recruitment process. The Staff found strong evidence to support the contention that the Aum used these substances along with other brainwashing techniques including sleep deprivation and isolation therapy. Many ex-Aum members have been quoted publicly admitting to the use of these tactics.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence of the strength of their recruitment efforts is that at the time of the Staff visit to Japan, five months after the Tokyo subway attack and subsequent to the arrest of most of the Aum leadership, the Aum was still successfully recruiting new followers. In fact, Fumihiro Joyu, who replaced Asahara as spokesperson for the Aum, became a “teen idol” for thousands of Japanese adolescent girls who fancied his looks. All of this occurred despite the fact that literally hundreds of Aum members had been implicated in murder, attempted murder and kidnapping plots.
Beyond generalized recruitment, they also appeared to have targeted specific individuals with unique skills for recruitment. The Staff confirmed that they recruited from the military, the police and certain key technological industries and faculties to further their militarization and intelligence functions.
For example, the Staff learned that the Aum had a strategy to recruit officers of the Japanese Self Defense Force (JDF) to use them as “combat troops” for the cult as well as to assist them in training other Aum members and in providing intelligence on government activities. Shockingly, the Aum appeared to have been successful in these efforts.
For example, based on this strategy, the Aum obtained the lists of hundreds of JDF members and tried to recruit them. The list was recovered during the arrest of an Aum flower. This strategy placed a high priority on recruiting members of the First Airborne Brigade and other highly trained divisions. The Staff discovered evidence that to carry out this recruitment drive the Aum even wire-tapped the house of the First Airborne Brigade’s commander to spy on his private life.
Former cult members interviewed by the Staff confirmed this recruitment drive and said that there were approximately 1 00 Defense Force members recruited, including 60 former members. The JDF has publicly admitted that only 20 incumbent and former JDF members were also Aum members although there appears to be evidence that the number was somewhat higher. The Staff also learned that a number of the former or current JDF officers who were recruited by the Aum provided critical assistance to their new religion. For example, we have learned that one or more non-commissioned officers from the First Airborne Brigade worked closely with Yoshihiro Inoue, the 25 year old Intelligence Minister of the Aum. These individuals either individually or in cooperation with other Aum members:
Assisted in the November 27, 1994 burglary of a Metropolitan Police Department office to steal driver’s license data;
Assisted in the break-in of the Hiroshima factory of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on December 28, 1994, in an attempt to steal technical documents on weapons such as tanks and artillery;
Assisted in a firebombing attack on the Aum headquarters in Tokyo on March 18, 1995, in an attempt to inspire public sympathy for the Aum just before the Tokyo subway gas attack.
Provided military training to other Aum members.
Additionally, the Staff has reviewed documents that indicate that JDF members also passed secret information to the Aum concerning the Metropolitan Police’s planned raid on the Aum’s facilities. This raid was supposed to occur on March 20th but was postponed because of the Tokyo subway gassing that occurred on that date. The Staff learned that these officers alerted the Aum of the anticipated raid and as a result the Aum initiated their deadly subway assault.
The Japanese Defense Forces were not the only victims of successful Aum penetration. The Staff discovered that the Aum recruited a number of police officers along with other low- ranking government bureaucrats. Former Aum members told the Staff that the Aum was actively attempting to recruit police officers. They remembered at least two active duty police officers being Aum members — one a Sergeant and the other an Assistant Inspector. The Staff was also told by former Aum members that the Aum wanted to recruit employees in the Prime Minister’s personal office and in particular those employees who had access to statistical information concerning the Japanese government and economy. The Staff has no information indicating how successful the Aum was in the later attempts.
In addition, the cult actively recruited individuals in the Japanese business sector. Although not as well documented as other areas of activity, the Aum apparently targeted those industries that had technology or know-how that it needed for weapons production. There is some evidence that they successfully penetrated a number of Japanese defense contractors including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Electronics Co. Ltd. Japanese press reported that one of Mitsubishi’s employees was arrested for assisting an Aum member who was an active duty Japanese Defense Force member in the theft of Mitsubishi research data. Mitsubishi publicly acknowledged the arrest of their employee, Hideo Nakamoto (38) and the theft of materials. However, they denied that this technical data was defense related.
In November, 1994, followers of the Cult were arrested on suspicion of breaking into the offices of Nippon Electronics Co., Ltd. (NEC). The purpose of the intrusion was to obtain information on laser technology from NEC’s laser beams laboratory in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture. When the police arrested Masanobu Iwao, who is alleged to have worked for the Aum’s Intelligence Ministry, they discovered sketches and maps of the interior layouts of facilities at six major electronic firms. Also included in the materials seized were the names of dozens of Aum members who worked for major electronic and chemical companies in Japan. Police suspect that the internal diagrams of the firms were provided by Aum sympathizers/members from the various firms. Police were led to suspect Iwao of the NEC burglary when they found his portable personal computer and floppy disks at the scene of the crime.
B. Structure of the Aum: A Government in Waiting
The founder of the Aum, Shoko Asahara, occupies the top position of the Aum as its “Supreme Leader. Under him, the followers are classed into seven ranks of enlightenment. All owe complete allegiance to him.
Unlike other religions, the Aum was organized into Ministries and Departments that attempted to mirror the Japanese government. For example, under Asahara, the Cult had 24 identifiable organizations comparable to the Japanese government with similar functions and responsibilities. Thus, the Aum had ministries of defense, health and welfare, science and technology, heavy industry, education, etc. As with the Emperor of Japan, Asahra also had a “household agency” which provided security and medical care for his family. In addition, Asahara had a ‘secretariat” headed by his 11 year old daughter, Reika Matsumoto, whose duties are unknown.
The Staff has prepared a chart which will be made an exhibit that identifies all of the most important ministries. Although the cult had more members in Russia than in Japan, all of the highest positions in the cult were held by Japanese citizens.
These ministers along with the head of Asahra’s ‘household agency” were part of the inner circle of advisors to Asahara. Unlike the tens of thousands of Aum members who are believed to have been innocent devotees of the Aum, this inner circle knew the true nature of the cult. Most have been arrested for helping to plan and carry out the Aum’s known atrocities. Some of the members of this inner circle and their respective ministries are as follows:
Hideo Murai — Former Minister of Science and Technology 1995
This was a key ministry which reportedly had over 300 members including a number of skilled scientists. It was responsible for the cult’s scientific experiments and was the critical ministry for the production of the sarin nerve gas. Murai was probably the primary go- between to Japanese organized crime for the production of illegal drugs which is speculated to be the major reason for his murder on April 23, 1995. He was succeeded by Masami Tsuchiya, age 30, who was subsequently arrested for murder and attempted murder for the Tokyo subway incident. Tsuchiya is reported to have confessed that he led the group’s sarin production team.
Kiyohide Hayakawa (45) — Minister of Construction
He was one of Asahara’s chief advisors and considered the mastermind of the sect’s growth and militarization. He was in charge of acquiring land, building all sect facilities and acquiring all of the technology and military hardware. He supervised the operations in the United States, Australia and Russia. He has been arrested for involvement in the Tokyo incident. He has also been recently indicted for the 1989 murder of Yokohama lawyer, Tsutsumi Sakamoto, and his family.
Yoshihiro Inoue (25) — Intelligence Minister 1995
He was responsible for gathering intelligence on government counter measures against the cult as well as acquiring scientific and other technical materials. He has been implicated in most of the major burglaries of defense contractors as well as for the infiltration of the Japanese Defense Forces. He was arrested on May 15th for his involvement in Tokyo incident. He was recently implicated in the letter bomb attack on Tokyo Governor Aoshima.
Tomomitsu Niimi (31) – Minister of Home Affairs
This ministry was responsible for maintaining control and discipline over the membership. It was involved in most of th kidnappings and torture of dissident and runaway members. Niimi has been indicted for murder in regards to the Tokyo incident as well as the 1989 murder of the Yokohoma attorney and his family. He has also been publicly quoted as having confessed to the use of VX and sarin gas against former Aum members and critics.
Ikuo Hayashi (48) – Treatment Minister
He was a key player in developing the sarin for the Tokyo attacks. As a trained physician he was called upon to administer drugs to recalcitrant Aum members and played a role in distributing the sarin in the subway cars. He and his wife traveled to the United States to collect documents on the use of sarin. He has been charged with murder in regard to the Tokyo incident.
Seichi Endo (34) — Health and Welfare Minister
This minister and his ministry were responsible for the chemical and biological weapons research and development program. Endo worked closely with Masami Tsuchiya, head of the sect’s chemical team and the successor to Hideo Murai, Science and Technology Minister, who was assassinated on April 23, 1995. Endo has confessed to his involvement in the sarin attacks and that Asahara had closely directed his research and development. Endo has been indicted for murder.
C. Financial Operations: Over $1 Billion
The Aum was very wealthy. Japanese government estimates place its assets at over 100 billion yen or approximately $1 billion. They also list 16 separate pieces of property in 11 different prefectures belonging to the Aum. They also note that the cult possessed a large amount of liquid assets including a large helicopter, boats, gold bars, and cash. Reportedly, the police recovered 700 million yen ($7 million) and 10 kilograms of gold ingots in just one of the buildings they raided.
The Aum amassed this fortune by a number of means. Not only did they require their followers to turn over all of their earthly possessions, they also came up with a number of ingenious and outlandish money-making schemes from running noodle shops and other legitimate businesses to extortion and selling their spiritual leader’s blood and bath water.
According to the Aum’s teachings, the only way to survive the Armageddon was to strictly follow the Aum’s teachings and in particular, to renounce the world and all of its worldly possessions. This tied directly into another tenet of the Aum that demanded all members who wished to reach a higher state of consciousness to give all of their assets, including other family members’ assets, to the cult. A majority of the Japanese members are believed to have innocently turned over most of their assets to the cult. This would run from a person’s telephone credit card worth a few dollars to one’s Tokyo residence worth millions. No one knows for sure how much money was raised in this fashion but ft is imagined to have been staggering in light of the vehement protests that were raised by thousands of relatives of Aum members.
The Aum raised millions by also selling religious training and [error, words missing] from headgear designed to synchronize one’s brain waves to that of Asahara for $10,000/month to a 200cc bottle of water from Asahara’s bath for $20. A significant amount was probably raised from these activities, although the total is not known.
The cult also raised funds in a perverse use of the Japanese Religious Corporations law to extort money. Because the law gives so much protection to religious groups, the Aum along with other legitimate religions could establish offices/churches almost anywhere. The Staff was told by former Aum members and government sources that they would use this legal guarantee to extort money from townspeople by threatening to come into their community. Apparently the Aum collected $9.2 million from one community on condition that it leave town.
The Aum also had legitimate businesses throughout the world that produced income for the cult. For example, in Taiwan it had an import/export agent. In Sri Lanka it maintained a tea plantation. The Aum was also involved in several different businesses in Japan. The cult’s corporate affiliates ranged from the Maha Posya computer retailer to chains of “bento” (boxed lunch) shops and cheap Chinese noodle restaurant a fitness club, a telephone dating club, and, unbelievably, a baby-sifting firm.
In July 1995 Japan press reports, citing police sources, said that the Aum paid over $400 million to companies in foreign countries over the past three years. The Japanese press reports that most of the amount, about $300 million, was paid to a Taiwanese company from a Japanese computer company run by the cult as the price for computers and computer parts purchased by the Aum. These press reports allege the Aum remitted some $1 million to accounts of a Russian company at banks in the Netherlands, Finland, and other European countries as broadcasting fees. The Aum also paid some $400,000 to an Australian company as fees for buying a farm and medicines, and nearly $100 million to other computer related companies in the United States and other countries, according to officials contacted by the Staff.
The amount of money earned by these enterprises is not known at this time. However, the size of their operations reflects a wealthy sect with extensive resources. The Staff has prepared an Appendix (Appendix C) which lists those properties and companies that we were able to document.
Another source of income for the cult may have come from illegal drug manufacturing. As will be explained in a later section, there appears to be credible evidence to suggest that the Aum was using its chemical expertise to manufacture stimulants and other illegal drugs for the Japanese underworld. Japanese government sources have concluded that the Aum produced and sold illegal drugs including stimulants and LSD. Whether or not they were also manufacturing these drugs for the Yakuza or mafia is still not fully proven but materials reviewed by the Staff seem to indicate a strong circumstantial tie between these two groups for the sale of drugs.
Despite these sources of income, some commentators have raised questions about whether the Aum was also obtaining funding from some other outside group, either foreign or domestic. Until more evidence is made public from the trials or records seized by the Japanese police, it is impossible to respond to these allegations.
D. Militarization of the Aum: Preparing For War with the West
The Aum was actively engaged in the preparations for both a conventional and unconventional attack upon the Japanese government and its people. This section will discuss the Aum’s ambitious yet basically unsuccessful preparation for conventional warfare; the next section will detail the more successful and more frightening chemical, biological and nuclear preparation by the Aum to initiate Armageddon.
Much evidence of the Aum’s militarization comes from former Aum members who have confessed to Japanese authorities the specifics of the Aum’s militarization program. These confessions have been corroborated by weapons parts, equipment and records seized by Japanese police including the notebooks of Construction Minister Hayakawa and computer files found at the sect’s offices.
The Staff learned that on April 6, 1995, a large number of components analogous to AK-74 submachine gun parts along with blueprints for their manufacture were found in a car owned by an Aum member. The AK-74 is the modern day version of the World War 11 era Soviet AK-47 assault rifle. Later, completed machine guns, additional parts, used rocket launchers and other military paraphernalia were found by Japanese police at the main Aum facility in Kamikuishiki. This is the same location where the sarin gas and biological facilities were located. The seized machine guns and parts resemble Russian-made AK-74s.
The Aum had apparently planned to illegally manufacture as many as 1,000 AK-74s and cartridges before the police raids. The Staff learned that the Aum had been manufacturing parts for these guns with the aid of computer-controlled machine tools at the Aum complex at the foot of Mt. Fuji since July 1994. Apparently Aum Intelligence Minister Inoue ordered the destruction of the weapons and lathes after the police raid on March 22nd. He had also instructed that they all be dumped into the reservoir located at Kusaki Dam in Gunma Prefecture. The Staff has learned that police searches of the area confirmed this information. Subsequent public statements by police authorities allege that over 100 Aum members were involved in the production of AK-74s.
It also appears that the Aum was interested in developing laser weapons. The Staff has learned from Japanese government sources that notations found in the Aum’s Construction Minister Hayakawa’s handwritten notebooks indicate that the cult was actively seeking information on the development of such weapons. These sources also indicate that apparently a number of Aum members traveled to Moscow to interview a Dr. Nikolay Basov, a purported Nobel Laureate and authority on this subject. The Staff has obtained Aum brochures with photographs purporting to show Dr. Basov with Asahara. In addition, as previously mentioned, the cult also attempted to steal technology from NEC’s laser beam laboratory in Sagamihara in November of 1994. At the end of December, 1994, other Aum followers were arrested on suspicion of burglary at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Research Center in Hiroshima prefecture. They apparently broke into the facility on a number of occasions in an effort to steal documents and data on laser beam research.
An official Japanese document reviewed by the Staff, confirms these events and also indicates that in March, 1995, documents on laser technology, including blueprints for a laser gun were confiscated from one of the Aum members. Documents relating to laser technology were also found buried in the grounds near the cult’s facilities in Fujinomiya, Yamanashi prefecture. Additionally, as set forth in section VI(C), of this Staff Statement, the Aum’s U.S. operatives were actively seeking laser technology.
Those same Hayakawa notebooks also include references to nuclear weapons and seismological weapons. As will be discussed in more detail in a later section on Aum activities in the United States and Russia, the Aum actively sought nuclear weapons technologies wherever they could find R. The Staff learned that data regarding nuclear weapons research was found on a number of laser discs seized during a police raid on March 2 1995, from an Aum member.
There also appears to be evidence that the Aum sent a party of its members to the former Yugoslavia to research the work of Nikola Tesia, the discoverer of alternating current who experimented with the theory of seismic weapons before he died in 1943. Apparently these Aum members traveled from February to April, 1995 to the Tesia Museum in Belgrade to review Tesia’s thesis and other research papers concerning “Tesia weapon systems” that focus on wave amplification. Their efforts in both Yugoslavia and in the United States to obtain such weaponry is discussed in section VI(D), infra.
The Aum was also interested in military training for its followers. The Staff learned from former Aum members that weapons and other military training was provided at an Aum training camp in Japan. Approximately 200 Aum members went for training in groups of 50 members. The training was provided by 3 brothers who were current active duty Japanese Defense Force members. These former Aum members also recalled seeing at least 50 AK-74s [error, words missing] the training. They also said that the reason given to the Aum members for the training was that the Aum was going to produce a war movie and that the Aum members were being trained in order to realistically act in the movie.
These same former Aum members also recalled an incident where one of their friends brought back two Tokarev pistols from Russia. While in Moscow, Construction Minister Hayakawa had given the weapons with 16 rounds of ammunition to their friend, also in Moscow, with specific instructions to deliver them personally to Asahara. They never learned the purpose of the guns and their friend reportedly was startled when Asahara opened up the sealed package containing the guns in his presence.
The Staff has confirmed that ‘shooting tours” in Russia had been arranged by the Aum for some of its members as part of its efforts to provide military training. One such tour was scheduled for September 21- 30, 1994. This trip was arranged through a travel agency which is a front company for the cult called “Devenir Millionaire”, located in Kandanishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. As mentioned in section VI(C), the cult also obtained helicopter training in Opa Locka, Florida.
According to the brochure distributed by the firm mentioned above, their training included shooting practice for automatic rifles at a Russian military base on the outskirts of Moscow. t[error] also notes that former Spetznaz members, a specialized Russian military unit, would be providing the training. Although the Staff was told that some high officials of the cult did receive Spetznaz training in Russia, we could not confirm if this particular tour ever was carried out.
Finally, a number of private and government sources have confirmed that the Aum had constructed and utilized a microwave incinerator to actually burn out bodies of enemies of the cult or cult members who perished during training or through other cult activities. Apparently the Aum would place bodies into the device, comprised of a stainless steel drum connected to an industrial microwave, for three days and then soak the ashes into nitrate which would dissolve the calcium remains. A Japanese government document indicates that nearly two dozen bodies were disposed of in this manner.
E. Aum’s CBW Program: Gas, Bugs, Drugs and Thugs
The Aum cult was aggressively involved in chemical and biological weapons production. Although, the extent of their success is not fully known to this date, the Staff found evidence that they successfully produced nerve agents such as Sarin, Tabun, Soman and VX, biological agents such as botulism and anthrax and controlled substances such as LSD.
Their operations involved chemical and biological research, development and production on a scale not previously identified with a sub-national terrorist group. They created a relatively sophisticated chemical and biological research facility without attracting the attention of either Japanese or foreign governments. In the course of these operations, they not only produced potential weapons but also illegal drugs for their own use and for sale to others.
The cult’s motivation for the production of chemical and biological weapons is inextricably linked to its Armageddon prophesy. As previously mentioned, Asahara foretold Armageddon in 1997 and then moved the date to 1995. The cult had as a basic belief that there would be a major war between Japan and the United States that would involve weapons of mass destruction. Based upon our investigation, including discussions with Aum members and review of Aum propaganda, the cult developed these weapons in order to either be prepared for this cataclysm or to instigate it by preemptive strike against their Japanese and Western enemies.
1. Chemical Weapons
Just last week, on October 20th, Japanese prosecutors revealed the full extent of Ahara’s plot to use deadly sarin gas to effectuate his version of Armageddon. At the initial arraignment against four cult members charged with conspiracy to commit murder, the prosecutor publicly charged that the four, under the direction of Asahara, planned to produce 70 tons of sarin within 40 days of completion of the sarin production facility, Satyam No. 7. The prosecutors told the court that the defendants made sarin gas on three separate occasions in November and December 1993. They also produced another 30 kilograms of the deadly substance in February 1994. The prosecutors added that 20 kilograms of this batch was used in the June 1994 Matsumoto attack which killed 7 people.
The cult gas squad was to spray the sarin via a helicopter the Aum had purchased. In furtherance of this conspiracy, the prosecutors charged the cult with the purchase of the Soviet- made helicopter. If the plot succeeded, Asahara had promised to promote the cult members involved to senior positions in the Aum hierarchy, the prosecutors revealed. The four defendants charged have admitted to the police their involvement in building the sarin plant but deny they knew its purpose.
It is clear that around 1992 the Aum began to research poisonous gasses including sarin and other nerve agents such as tabun and soman. From confessions and other information, the Japanese police now surmise that the Aum chose sarin because of its relative ease of production and the fact that the precursors for it were readily available.
The Aum elevated their efforts to develop and deploy sarin to near mystical heights. In speeches Asahara repeatedly refers to sarin. The Staff obtained and translated documents found at an Aum facility that included a December 30, 1994 manual on how to make sarin. The publisher of the manual was listed as Matsumoto Armin (the author’s pun on the Matsumoto sarin incident). Within the manual, which includes chemical configurations for sarin, is a song entitled “Song of Sarin, the Magician” whose lyrics include:
“It came from Nazi Germany, a little dangerous chemical weapon,
Sarin Sarin –,
If you inhale the mysterious vapor, you will fall with bloody vomit from your mouth,
Sarin–, Sarin–, Sarin–, the chemical weapon.
‘Song of Sarin, the Brave “In the peaceful night of Matsumoto City
People can be killed, even with our own hands,
The place is full of dead bodies all over,
There! Inhale Sarin, Sarin,
Prepare Sarin! Prepare Sarin! Immediately poisonous gas weapons will fill the place.
Spray! Spray! Sarin, the Brave, Sarin.
Also referred to in the manual was a reference to “Uncle Fester” as an American who would relate the know-how to produce sarin. Uncle Fester, the Staff has learned from U.S. experts on chemical weapons, is a popular underground pseudonym for individual(s) who publish information on producing terrorist devices. The Staffs brief search of the Internet discovered innumerable ways to obtain such information.
As the song indicates, sarin is a deadly nerve agent first synthesized in the 1930’s. Other nerve agents with similar characteristics to sarin (GB) considered by the Aum are tabun (GA), soman (GF) and VX. They are all liquids not gases. They can all be absorbed through the skin, are volatile and, at high temperatures or when aerosolized by an explosion or other method, can be inhaled.
Standard medical textbooks describe sarin as a colorless, odorless liquid that is 500 times more toxic than cyanide gas. Only half a milligram of sarin can kill a person. As a “nerve agent”, sarin belongs to a group of compounds that inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase which breaks down acetylcholine at the junction between nerve endings. This leads to an increase in secretions from the nose, eyes, mouth, airways and intestines, twitching, weakness, paralysis and eventually death.
The initial effect of a small droplet on the skin may be unnoticed local sweating. The first systemic effects – nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, followed by a feeling of uneasiness and sometimes muscle twitching — may not begin until as long as 18 hours after exposure. A large exposure to liquid tabun, sarin and soman, or even a small amount of VX, within one to thirty minutes may cause sudden unconsciousness, convulsions and, within minutes, paralysis and apnea (asphyxiation).
Exposure to a small amount of vapor within seconds causes excessive constriction of the pupil of the eye, ocular pain, tunnel vision and dim or blurred vision. Bronchoconstriction and increased bronchial secretions cause symptoms varying from mild discomfort to difficult or labored breathing. With a large exposure, one or two breaths. may lead to loss of consciousness within-seconds, followed by convulsions and, within minutes, paralysis and apnea (asphyxiation).
Atropine, which was used by our troops in the Persian Gulf War, is an antidote for Sarin and other nerve agents. Atropine blocks the action of excess acetylcholine thereby stopping the deadly build up that results in the increased secretions.
Starting in the Spring of 1993, the Aum utilized its own chemical company to start acquiring the chemical agents and other materials necessary for full scale production. Sarin research and production was conducted under the direction of Masami Tsuchiya, head of the cult’s chemical team and Seiichi Endo, the cult’s Health and Welfare Minister. Production occurred at a facility in the Aum compound site in Kamikuishiki called Satyam No. 7.
Reports from Japanese officials indicate that the sarin production facility was extremely sophisticated. It was almost all fabricated by the Aum members themselves who utilized their other companies as sources for material an technical expertise. According to prosecution sources, the cult produced 30 kilograms of sarin from their computerized chemical plant sometime in early 1994 before an accident caused them to shut down operations. It is believed that the sarin for the June 27, 1994 Matsumoto incident was made at this facility before the accident.
Apparently the sarin actually used for the Tokyo incident was made on a smaller scale at a laboratory inside the Aum compound on March 19, 1995, the day before the Tokyo subway incident. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there may be some sarin missing from the cult’s stockpiles. One such report indicates that Aum members may have buried sarin at undisclosed locations.
As previously noted, the Aum also tried to develop other chemical weapons such as soman, tabun and VX. The Staff confirmed from official documents that the Aum produced VX on at least four separate occasions in the same facility used to produce the Sarin compound. They were developed under the direction of Masami Tsuchiya for experimental purposes but full scale production never occurred.
There is credible evidence that the Aum did deploy small quantities of VX, one of the deadliest nerve agents known, on at least two occasions. Confessions from a number of Aum members implicate Tomomitsu Niimi, currently under arrest, for deploying this weapon on a number of enemies of the Aum. Japanese authorities have been quoted in the press as saying that Niimi has confessed to this crime.
The Staff confirmed from official documents that Niimi and others were involved in at least two attacks. They include the attack on Tadahiro Hamaguchi with VX on December 12, 1994, while he was walking on an Osaka street. Hamaguchi died ten days later on December 22nd. The police detected “mono-ethyl-methyl phosphoric acid”, a by-product produced only from VX, in Hamaguchi’s blood serum on July 22, 1995, confirming the presence of VX. In another incident, Niimi attacked Hiroyuki Nagaoka, 57, the head of the “Association of the Victims of Aum Shinrikyo” with VX gas in January, 1995. He fortunately survived but was in a coma for several weeks per a Staff conversation with his son. It was dispensed by spraying it from a hypodermic syringe into the face of the victim. Nagaoka’s son told us that his father survived because his assailants missed his face.
The Japanese police believe that there may have been a third incident of VX deployment although they have not identified the victim or other circumstances in any detail. The Staff has learned from government sources that the incident involves an 83 year old Tokyo man who collapsed in his house in December, 1994 from what is alleged to have been an Aum sponsored VX attack. The man never reported the incident to the police or authorities.
From a Japanese government document the Staff has learned that after the Nagaoka incident, the Aum retained some excess /X. is material had not been found by the police in the initial series of raids. It is believed that this VX may be in the possession of one or more Aum members who were still at large at the time of the preparation of this Staff statement.
Ominously, there have been police reports cited in the Japanese press that sodium cyanide, linked to cult members, was found in late September 1995, in Japan. Police found as much as 8.5 kilograms of the sodium cyanide in the apparent hideout of an Aum fugitive, according to Japanese police sources. The sources said that the amount of sodium cyanide found in 17 bottles could kill approximately 70,000 people. The cyanide was found by hikers in September around. a tent strewn with camping gear in a mountainous area of Japan where cult member, Satoru Hiratu, a member of the intelligence ministry, is believed to have hidden between mid-May and early September. Sodium cyanide was found in devices designed to generate highly toxic cyanide gas that were found in subway station in Tokyo in May and July. Hirata is on the wanted list for alleged involvement in the death of a Tokyo public notary official.
In the days following the subway attack in March, Asahara video- taped a reply to allegations of their chemical weapon build-up. In his rambling statement, a transcript of which was obtained by the Staff, he implicitly confirms the cult’s possession of the chemicals, but seems to claim they are for other purposes. Throughout the statement he emphasizes his Armageddon theories and claims that half of his 1700 monks and nuns have been sprayed with Q-fever.
2. Biological Weapons
Materials seized at the Aum facilities and other evidence confirms that the Aum had embarked upon an intense research and development program for the production of biological weapons. Judging from this evidence, Japanese authorities believe the Aum succeeded in producing botulism toxin. The me Japanese authorities are less certain but have serious concern that the Aum had also produced anthrax bacillus.
Both botulism toxin and anthrax are viewed by experts as serious weapons of mass destruction. In a 1993 report of the Office of Technology Assessment, it is noted that botulism toxin is a poison made by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. It is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. The fatal dose of botulin toxin by injection or inhalation is about 1 nanogram (a billionth of a gram) per kilogram of weight. This would equate to about 70 nanograms of botulin toxin to kill the average adult male. The toxin is also relatively fast-acting, producing death between 1 to 3 days in 80% of the victims. (See: Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction, Office of Technology Assessment, 1993)
Anthrax is the name given for a severe illness caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthraxis. It is considered one of the prototypical biological-warfare agents. In nature, anthrax is primarily a disease of cattle and sheep but can also infect humans. It can survive for long periods of time in the soil in a dormant state. After infection, it reverts to an active phase in which it multiplies rapidly in the host body and secretes deadly toxins. (Ibid)
After inhalation into the lungs, anthrax spores travel to the lymph nodes of the chest, where they become active, multiplying and releasing three proteins that function as a potent toxin. This toxin results in uncontrollable hemorrhaging and fatal tissue damage. In addition to its lethality anthrax has other characteristics that make it an attractive BW agent including the ease of production. (Ibid) The Staff has confirmed that Seiichi Endo, Health and Welfare Minister for the cult, confessed that he had been working on developing biological weapons and was close to finalizing this effort before the Tokyo incident. He claims to have embarked upon this work under the specific directions of Asahara. Other Aum followers have also confessed to their involvement in the biological program at the cult’s Kamikuishiki compound.
In the compound, the police have found large amounts of equipment that is indispensable for cultivating bacteria and viruses. Also uncovered were large amounts of ‘peptone”, a substance used to cultivate bacteria, as well as quantities of books and materials on the production of botulism, cholera and dysentery. The amount of peptone seized was phenomenal. Apparently there were 100-200 metal drums of peptone seized at the Aum facilities, each having a capacity of 18 liters. By comparison, university research classes are said to typically use only about one liter of peptone per year. Thus, the Aum were expecting to propagate a huge quantity of bacteria.
Subsequent discoveries by the police were equally disturbing. It appears from official Japanese government material reviewed by the Staff that the police determined that Seiichi Endo had produced an antibody for botulinus and was constructing a four-story concrete facility for further development of biological weapons at another Aum site in Naganohara. That facility was to be equipped with a so-called ‘clean room” with specialized ventilation systems and a sealed room for protecting cultivated bacteria from leaking. The Staff has been told by a number of credible sources that the actual building used for the production of bacterial agents has yet to be fully searched by Japanese authorities. All of the materials recovered so far have been from ancillary buildings located on the Kamikuishiki site, not from the actual production facility. These sources have warned us that up to the date of the Staffs visit to Japan in late August, Japanese authorities had merely sealed this building after a cursory inspection from its doorway. These sources contend that the police have not gone into it because of concerns over its unknown contents. At a later date when more information has been gleaned from informants and records the police intend to launch a thorough review of material and cultures included in the building.
Probably the most chilling of all the reports coming out of Japan were those that the Aum had actually attempted to use bacteria warfare. The Staff has learned that a number of devices were found by the police in Tokyo that authorities believe may have been intended to disperse anthrax. Three attache cases were discovered on March 15, 1995, five days before the Tokyo gas attack, at the Kasumigaseki subway station in Tokyo. Each contained a small tank to hold an unknown liquid, a small motorized fan and a vent and battery. Unfortunately, none of the liquids were recovered for analysis. Experts have told the Staff that these devices were crude dissemination devices for bacterial or chemical agents. Additionally, the Staff has learned from a number of government sources that the cult had obtained at least two radio controlled drone aircrafts whose likely use was also to dim’s attempts to purchase material here in the United States that may be relevant to their biological program. As discussed in greater detail in Section VI(C), infra, the Aum wanted to obtain hundreds of camcorder batteries and small fans as well as thousands of small serum bottles. All are similar to the components used in the attache cases.
The Staff has also learned that the police suspect that the Aum dispersed anthrax bacilli at their Tokyo headquarters. This belief is based upon a confession by one of the former Aum members. The event occurred in June, 1993 and coincided with complaints from neighbors of a foul odor. The police report that the Aum’s Tokyo headquarters building seemed to have been equipped for bacteria production.
Equally disturbing have been a number of press report in late May of 1995 concerning the Aum’s interest in the Ebola virus. The Staff has confirmed that members of the Aum sent a purported medical mission to Zaire in 1992 to assist in the treatment of Ebola victims. The press reports allege that in actuality the Aum was attempting to find a sample of the Ebola strain to take back to Japan for culturing purposes. This is entirely believable in light of their confirmed and aggressive biological weapons program.
In support of these claims, the Staff was told that in a December, 1994 broadcast from Moscow, the Aum’s Health and Welfare Minister, Seichi Endo discussed the use of Ebola as a potential biological warfare agent.
Apparently a copy of this speech was transcribed by the cult and printed in Japanese in one of their publications. The Staff has to date been unable to find which of the many hundreds of documents published by the Aum contained this speech. However, the Staff has confirmed from Aum documents that in October of 1992 Asahara and 40 followers traveled to Zaire for “medical assistance” to that country.
3. Illegal Drug Production
The Japanese police strongly suspect that the Aum was using its chemical weapons development program to also produce illegal drugs, including stimulants and LSD. The police also believe that the Aum had an arrangement to sell their drugs to Japanese organized crime, the Yakuza. The police also have credible evidence to believe that some of the drug production was being used by the Aum leadership on its membership and new recruits for thought-control purposes.
In support of these charges, the Japanese police report they have found a notebook of one of the Aum leaders detailing the production process for illegal stimulants. The police allegedly discovered a number of precursors for the production of stimulants. The police have also determined that a number of senior Aum members attempted to sell large quantities of drugs to various Japanese organized crime groups. Information garnered by the [error, words missing] that the Aum drugs were not popular because they were, in the words of one police informant, “garbage”.
The police allegedly have obtained confessions from a number of Aum members that discuss the use of drugs in the initiation rites of the Aum. A number of these members described hallucinating after being given unknown substances. Traces of LSD and other illegal drugs have reportedly been found in blood samples of number of Aum members. In addition at least 10 grams of LSD powder was confiscated from the cult’s Satyam No. 2 building.
The Staff has learned that Masami Tsuchiya, head of the Aum’s chemical team, has confessed to the police that he produced LSD for the cult. The police report that Tsuchiya admitted to systematically producing LSD and other drugs for use on Aum members and for sale. Apparently implicated in this scheme was former Construction Minister Hayakawa whose hand- written notes list the chemicals needed to manufacture LSD.
V. Crimes of the Cult
A. Murder and Mayhem: Precursors to Gas
In the days following the subway gas attack on March 20, 1995, as suspicion fell on the Aum, most people outside of Japan learned for the first time of this rather obscure Japanese religious sect. To most, their criminal actions of March 20th were out of character for a religious group. Yet, a closer review of the Aum’s history show that this group’s character had a common thread of criminality leading back to almost the date it was legally chartered. They include murder, attempted murder, kidnappings and burglaries. These incidents, most of which only became known to the outside world in the aftermath of the Tokyo attack, have led many to conclude that Japanese authorities should not have been surprised by either the subway attack or its perpetrators.
This section of the Staff statement will briefly chronicle the most serious of the criminal acts of the Aum cult leading up to the tragedy in the Tokyo subway. Their recitation provides an accurate portrait of this group’s criminality. It also serves as a reminder of the consequences of government inaction. A number of Japanese Aum experts interviewed by the Staff charged that their own government’s inability or unwillingness over the years to investigate the Aum led to the cult’s delusion of invincibility. They noted that the cult regularly snatched former members and enemies off the street without any police interference. This immunity just emboldened the Aum to more outrageous conduct in their opinions.
The following is a partial chronological list of criminal activities of the Aum cult leading up to the Tokyo gassing attack of March 20, 1995. A longer, more detailed chronology of major events in the history of the Aum cult is attached as Appendix D:
1989 Parents and family members of Aum recruits complain to law enforcement officers that the Aum was kidnapping and physically assaulting recruits and family members of recruits.
11/89 Mr. Sakamoto, a lawyer representing anti-Aum groups, and his wife and one-year old son are kidnapped and murdered. After the Tokyo attack, Aum members confess to the crime and the families’ remains are found.
10/90 Aum members found guilty in Japanese court of violating the Utilization of Land Planning Act.
10/92 Aum ‘medical missions sent to Zaire to obtain a sample of the deadly Ebola virus.
1993 Aum begins research into and production of chemical agents.
6/93 Noxious fumes from a building believed to be affiliated with the sect cause approximately 100 people to complain in the Koto ward of Tokyo. Following the sarin gas attack in Tokyo, Aum members told Japanese officials that the Aum dispersed anthrax bacilli at their Tokyo headquarters at this time.
9/93 Two Aum members plead guilty to carrying dangerous chemicals on an airplane in Perth, Australia.
6/94 Sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, 7 people died and over 200 injured. The sect purchases and smuggles an MIL-17 helicopter from Russia to Japan.
7/94 Cult begins manufacturing AK-74s. A hazardous odor smelled near the premises of Aum in Yamanashi prefecture.
9/94 Miyazaki Prefecture police accepted a complaint and charged the cult with plundering an inn owner of his receipts.
11/94 Aum members broke into the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department in order to steal drivers license data.
Followers were arrested on suspicion of breaking into the offices of Nippon Electronics Co. The purpose was to obtain information on laser technology.
12/94 Aum members broke into the Hiroshima Factory of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in order to steal technical documents on weapons such tanks and artillery.
Aum members killed Tadahiro Hamaguchi by spraying him with VX while he was walking on an Osaka street. Aum may have attacked an 83-year-old man with VX gas.
1/95 Tomomitsu Niimi gas at Hiroyuki Nagaoka head of the Association of the Victims of Aum Shindkyo. Nagaoka survived but is in a coma.
2/95 A village office administrator was kidnapped. Killed by drug injection. Body burned in microwave incinerator located in underground room in Satyam No. 2.
Aum follower, Otaro Ochida, a pharmacist, is hanged in the Aum facilities. His body is burned in microwave incinerator. Eight other bodies were burned in the incinerator.
3/95 prior to the 20 March gas attack:
Aum members assisted in a firebombing attack on the Aum headquarters in Tokyo in an attempt to inspire public sympathy for the Aum just before the Tokyo subway gas attack. Three pieces of luggage containing sprayers were placed in the Kasumigaseki subway station.
An Osaka University student was injured, captured and confined by Aum members.
Six former Aum members were confined by Aum members, police found them during raids on Aum facilities following the sarin gas attack.
B. Matsumoto: A Dry Run for Tokyo
On March 20, 1995, to the public at large, a new form of terrorism was unleashed with the Aum’s release of its deadly sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system. Yet the events leading up to that incident confirm that the Aum had used sarin to kill before in Matsumoto, a small industrial and resort city of several hundred thousand people 100 miles west of Tokyo. 1995
Late in the evening of June 27, 1994, a substance later identified as sarin seeped through the open windows of apartments and houses in the Kaichi Heights neighborhood near the old heart of the city. Seven people eventually died and over 500 people were injured including a number still in comas.
Suspicion initially fell on a former chemical salesman at whose residence various chemicals were found. He was believed to have accidentally released the gas while mixing a home-made batch of herbicide for his garden. This later turned out to be physically impossible since none of the compounds found in his house could have caused the toxic results of the incident. In addition, traces of sarin were found near where witnesses had seen individuals in a vehicle releasing some type of gas.
This and other evidence led a number of non-government experts to suspect terrorist involvement in the Matsumoto affair. Kyle Olson, in January 1995, provided the most accurate analysis of Matsumoto, viewing the event as the handiwork of un-named terrorists. He opined that it was merely a dry run and that the next sarin attack would be in the Tokyo subway system. Other commentators noted the interest of the Aum in sarin and clearly hinted that the Aum may have been behind the Matsumoto incident.
It was not until after the police arrests subsequent to the Tokyo incident that incontrovertible evidence was developed linking the Aum to Matsumoto. The Staff has confirmed that the Japanese police have confessions from a number of Aum followers implicating the Aum to this gas attack. Masami Tsuchiya, head of the cult’s chemical squad, has admitted he developed the sarin used for the attack and that Hideo Murai, the deceased Science and Technology Minister for the Aum, and six other senior cult members were involved.
Tsuchiya also has provided the police a motive for this incident. He has indicated that the Aum attack was linked to a court case then being heard in Matsumoto. The Aum was then defending itself against fraud charges brought by various land owners in Matsumoto. On May 10th, the trial had concluded and the verdict was scheduled to be released on July 19, 1994. The Aum decided to target the three judges hearing the case in order to prevent them from returning a decision against the Aum.
The sarin was released within 30 feet of the dormitory where the three judges were staying. All three judges fell ill as a result of the attack and the decision was delayed as planned by the Aum. As of the Staff trip to Tokyo, the Matsumoto court has still not reconvened to release its decision.
Tsuchiya has also told the police that initially they had planned to attack the judges while they were working in the Matsumoto branch of the Nagano District Court. Only after arriving there did they learn that the judges had left the courthouse and returned to their residences. They then proceeded to the parking lot next to the judges’ dormitory and sprayed the sarin out of a nozzle device attached to a truck specially outfitted for that purpose. Apparently an electric heater was used to heat the liquid into a gaseous state for dispersal by an electrically powered fan. The gassing lasted for approximately 10 minutes releasing a gas that was carried on a southeasterly wind into the targeted residences.
Tsuchiya also confirmed that the Aum used Matsumoto as a test run. The cult had never before tried the sarin gas on a large scale dispersal. Matsumoto proved to them that they could effectively deliver it. The police have recovered portions of the truck and the special fittings used in the Matsumoto attack.
Apparently the truck and its device were taken apart soon after the Matsumoto incident so it was not available to be used the following year in Tokyo. It has been suggested that the Aum quickly destroyed this device when an accidental spill of sarin at their Kamikuishiki facility looked like it was going to attract police attention. On July 9th, two weeks after Matsumoto, the dairy farming region near the Aum compound was swept by a strong and strange odor that allegedly killed vegetation near the Aum compound. Police were called to the scene but were denied access to the sect’s compound. Although the police did not pursue the matter any further, the Aum apparently was concerned that they might discover the Matsumoto vehicles and therefore destroyed the evidence.
This would later have ramifications to the citizens of Tokyo. When R came time for the Aum to strike again, it has been surmised that they lacked their only tested delivery system. Its absence may have played a major role in the Aum’s choice of target and method of delivery.
C. Tokyo: A Nightmare in the Morning
On the morning of March 20, 1995, the Aum attempted to murder tens of thousands of innocent people in order to create unimaginable disorder and chaos. Unlike the earlier Matsumoto incident in which the Aum targeted a specific group of people, the Tokyo subway attack involved the indiscriminate use of the chemical nerve age sarin on an enormous civilian population. Had the chemical mixture and delivery system been slightly different, the resulting tragedy would be unprecedented, if not beyond comprehension.
The Aum’s plan was to place approximately eleven small containers of sarin on five trains running on three major lines of the Tokyo subway system (Marunouchi, Chiyoda and Hibiya). The subway system has over 5 million riders daily. The selected trains were scheduled to arrive at the central Kasumigaseki station within four minutes of each other at the height of the morning rush hour between 8:00 and 8:10 a.m. The containers, which were made out of nylon polyethylene and wrapped in newspaper, were placed on baggage racks or left on the floor and punctured by Aum members to release their deadly cargoes of sarin.
The station towards which the cars were converging, Kasumigaseki, is one of the largest where a number of subway lines converge. It is also at the heart of Tokyo’s government district. Within walking distance is the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Tax Administrator, Labor, Health & Welfare, as well as both the Tokyo Police and the National Police Agency (the equivalent of the FBI). Many of the riders who use the Kasumigaseki station are employees and officials of those agencies.
As planned, most of the stricken trains converged at the height of rush hour and disgorged their sick and frightened passengers. The Aum’s plan succeeded in killing twelve and injuring 5,500 people. It also succeeded in causing panic and chaos in the station and throughout Tokyo as commuters and subway workers alike collapsed into severe fits of coughing, choking and vomiting. It was only a fortunate mistake by the Aum in the preparation of the special batch of sarin used that day and the inferior dissemination system used to deploy it that limited the number of casualties. If not for these mistakes, the Staff has been told by chemical weapons experts, tens of thousands could have easily been killed in this busy subway system that moves over five million passengers a day.
Despite the poor quality of the sarin and its inadequate delivery system, the scene under the streets of Tokyo that morning was terrifying. Reports reviewed by the Staff describe men, women and children in panic, coughing uncontrollably, vomiting and collapsing in heaps. On one of the platforms over 30 passengers collapsed after being overcome with fumes that were strong enough to be smelled one floor above at the ticket counters. Subway workers and other emergency workers who first arrived on the scene quickly became victims themselves.
One first hand account reviewed by the staff was from one of the two Americans injured in the event. This civilian U.S. employee stated that the first indication he had of a problem was when he changed trains at Kasumigaseki station and noted a peculiar odor. He waited for a train for approximately 20 minutes without realizing what was going on, in part because he spoke little if any Japanese. During this time he began to experience troubled breathing, headache, and pain in his chest and throat. He explained that the harder he tried to breathe the more his chest hurt. By the time he was taken to the hospital he had lost most eye-hand coordination and voluntary control over his bodily functions. He soon lost consciousness and h to be revived at the hospital. Fortunately, he survived and has fully recovered.
The Tokyo attack was first widely viewed as the long-prophesied attack by the Aum on the Japanese government. Because all of the trains targeted were scheduled to arrive at Kasumigaseki station, it was believed that the attack was targeted on the numerous government bureaucrats working there. However, the Japanese government now believes that the gas attack was meant merely to be a diversionary feint in anticipation of a planned government raid against the Aum. The Staff has learned that the police have evidence that the Aum leadership planned the Tokyo attack after they discovered that the police were going to raid their facilities in search for a kidnapped notary public. (It later was discovered that the Aum had killed this individual.) They, including Asahara, the Aum’s Construction Minister Hayakawa, the Aum’s Home Affairs Minister Niimi, and the Aum’s late Science & Technology Minister, Murai, reasoned that the sarin attack would disrupt the police investigation, delay the searches and give them additional time to flee or destroy incriminating evidence.
The Staff learned that the police have evidence that showing after Asahara approved the sarin attack, Murai was given the task of carrying it out. He, in turn, met with Ikuo Hayashi, the Aum’s Treatment Minister, Tomomasa Nakagawa, an Aum doctor, and Seiichi Endo, the Aum’s Health and Welfare Minister, to decide upon the specific plan of attack. They decided to use the bags of sarin placed on the specific trains.
Specific assignments were given out. Ikuo Hayashi was assigned to place the sarin bags on the Chiyoda line; Toru Toyoda and Yasuo Hayashi the Hibiya line; and, Masato Yokoyama and Kenichi Hirose the Marunouchi line. Five others were selected as lookouts and drivers – Tomomitsu Niimi, Shigeo Sugimoto, Kouichi Kitamura, Katsuya Takahashi and Kyotaka Sotozaki. Yoshihiro Inoue, the Aum’s Intelligence Minister, was assigned to be field supervisor for the operation.
The various teams carried out their missions and then returned to a special hideout in Tokyo where they each were given an injection of an antidote for sarin. They then changed their clothes and burned those they had worn as well as the umbrellas used to pierce the sarin packages. When they reported their successful operation to Asahara, he is reported to have commented “how nice it is that their souls were removed by Shiva”.
Within days of the Tokyo subway attack, the law enforcement community and the public-at-large scrutinized the Aum as the group responsible for the tragedy. Among the documents obtained at the cult’s New York Office, the Staff found scraps of paper that when pieced together appear to be an English translation of Asahara’s March 24th defense of the cult that as publicly disseminated. In the statement Asahara claims he has been sprayed with poisonous gas along with hundreds of his disciples. He further attempts to explain away the tremendous stockpiles of chemical weapon precursors that were discovered by Japanese authorities days earlier. Specifically, he claims the chemicals were for legitimate manufacturing purposes.
The Staff has asked chemical experts to review Asahara’s March 24th explanation to assess the scientific veracity of his claims. The experts advised the Staff that Asahara’s claims are ‘not believable” based upon Asahara’s asserted usage of the chemicals. Furthermore, the experts confirm that the various chemicals all have general or specific applications in the development of chemical weapons such as sarin and cyanide gas.
D. Post Tokyo: The Terror Continues
From March 23, 1995 through September 4, 1995, the police have conducted over 500 raids on approximately 300 locations, confiscating 66,000 items of evidence in their investigation of the Aum. The number of Aum followers arrested have reached 398 in 240 separate cases. Those arrested and or indicted have included almost the entire hierarchy of the cult. They have been charged with a variety of offenses ranging from murder, conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, harboring, and theft, to petty traffic and licensing offenses. Many of those charged have started to appear for trials, including Asahara who as scheduled to start trial on Thursday, October 26th. He fired his attorney the day before the trial.
Despite this aggressive response from the Japanese authorities, criminal activities of the Aum did not come to an end. As a matter of some concern, a number of significant events have occurred since the Tokyo subway incident involving the Aum.
For example, on March 30, 1995, only ten days after the sarin subway attack, Takaji Kunimatsu, the Commissioner General of the National Police Agency, was not by a lone gunman. Japanese government material, obtained by the Staff, reveal this shooting occurred in front of his residence as he was leaving for work. He was seriously wounded by three shots from what police believe was a U.S. made Colt 38 caliber revolver. The would-be assassin fired four time from a distance of approximately 60 feet away. He then fled from the scene on a bicycle.
Although the assailant is still at-large, the Aum has been implicated in the crime by a police investigation that resulted last month with the police arresting Mitsuo Sunaoshi who belonged to the Aum’s Construction Ministry.
On April 15, 1995, the entire country was put on alert over rumors that Asahara had predicted something terrible was going to happen on that date. Although nothing occurred, over 20,000 additional police were deployed in full riot gear, bulletproof vests and gas masks throughout Tokyo. Many stores shut down out -of concern over a potential gas attack. Scores of people stayed away from work or avoided the subway system. Four days later, on April 19, 1995, in what appears to be a copy cat attack, more than 500 people were sickened and taken to hospitals complaining of stinging eyes, sore throats, nausea, coughs and dizziness after inhaling a mysterious gas released in three different places around Japanese Railway’s Yokohama Station. Most were released that day from the hospital and no serious injuries or deaths occurred. The Police originally claimed evidence of phosgene but later retracted that statement and indicated they could not identify the substance. The police have arrested a non-Aum.
Then, on April 23, 1995, one month after the subway incident, Hideo Murai, the Aum’s Science and Technology Minister, was stabbed repeatedly while in front of the Aum headquarters. He later died from his wounds. His assailant, Hiroyuki Jo, was immediately arrested for this daring attack that occurred in front of hundreds of police and press cameramen.
Weeks later, a member of Japanese organized crime, Kenji Kamimine, was arrested in regards to this murder. The police suspect that the murder of Murai had been ordered by either organized crime or Asahara in order to prevent him from revealing their relationship. The case continues to be investigated.
On May 5, 1995, the Aum struck again by attacking Shinjuku Station, one of busiest in Tokyo, with another chemical weapon. In this case, the Aum used sodium cyanide placed in a public restroom. The chemical device was a rather simple binary weapon consisting of two plastic bags, one containing 2 liters of powdered sodium cyanide and the other containing about 1.5 liters of diluted sulfuric acid. When discovered, the bags were ablaze. Had they broken open a chemical reaction would have occurred producing deadly hydrogen cyanide gas. Chemical experts have estimated that the amount of gas that would have been released would have been sufficient to kill between 10,000 and 20,000 people.
On May 16, 1995, Asahara was finally arrested. That evening, the Aum again struck. A letter bomb mailed to the Governor of Metropolitan Tokyo exploded in the hands of his secretary, blowing off the fingers of his left hand. Five members of the Aum, including its Intelligence Chief Inoue, were indicted for producing and posting the explosive on May 11th.
As late as July 4, 1995, another gas attack was averted in Tokyo. Again, this involved hydrogen cyanide and a rest room. In this case 4 devices were found in rest rooms at the Kayaba- cho, Tokyo and Ginza subway stations and the Japanese Railway suburban Shinjuku station. The devices were different than the ones used on May 5th but all used the similar principal of mixing two separate bags containing sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide. None of the devices worked.
The threat still remains that other devices may be employed in the future especially during some of the more important trials. The Staff has been advised that not all of the chemicals produced by the Aum have been accounted for, nor have all of the more fanatical members been arrested. As an example, up to at least early September during the Staffs fact-finding trip, the entire city of Tokyo was festooned with wanted posters for some of the Aum members. In addition, the Aum still has substantial funds. Only a portion of its original $1 billion assets has been seized or frozen by authorities.
Until all of the fanatical members, their weapons of mass destruction and their assets are accounted for, there is still some justification for the, Japanese to be concerned. Additionally, until our government is satisfied that it knows all that it needs to know about the capabilities of the Aum, including its shopping list of high tech items, its intentions involving our Nation and its international links to other countries, we in the United States are justified to be concerned.
VI. Overseas Operations
One reason why we in the United States should be concerned about the Aum is because of the truly global nature of the cult. In this section we will examine the Aum’s activities in seven different countries on four different continents, including Russia and the United States.
A. The Aum Shinrikyo in Russia
1. The Organization
Through a number of private and government sources, including Aum documents, the staff has confirmed that the Aum began its activities in Russia in 1991 and the organization there quickly grew to become the Aum’s largest organization in the world. The first followers registered in Moscow in 1991 and, in June 1992, the Russian Ministry of Justice registered the cult as an official religious organization.
There are many allegations in the Japanese and Russian press about Aum activities in Russia. The Staff was unable to confirm many of these allegations while in Moscow investigating this issue. Through briefings over the last several months, the Staff also learned that U.S. government officials have been unable to confirm or deny many of the allegations.
Following the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, two Russian Duma committees began investigations of the Aum — the Committee on Religious Matters and the Committee on Security Matters. A report from the Security Committee states that the Aum’s followers numbered 35,000, with up to 55,000 laymen visiting the sect’s seminars sporadically. This contrasts sharply with the numbers in Japan which are 18,000 and 35,000 respectively. The Security Committee report also states that the Russian sect had 5,500 full-time monks who lived in Aum accommodations, usually housing donated by Aum followers. Russian Aum officials, themselves, claim that over 300 people a day attended services in Moscow. The official Russian Duma investigation into the Aum described the cult as a closed, centralized organization.
The Russian Duma has reported that the Aum had eleven branches outside of Moscow and at least seven inside of Moscow. Some of the other Aum headquarters in Russia were located in St. Petersburg, Kazan, Perm, Vorkuta, Tyumen, Samara, Vladivostok, Elista, and Vladikavkaz.
According to Russian press reports, the Aum was very specific in targeting its recruiting in Russia. The majority of the Russian Aum members were disaffected university students. According to a Russian press report that claims to have access to forms that prospective Aum members filled out, the sect asked prospective members to choose the subjects among 24 fields they wanted to pursue in the future. Physics, chemistry, and biology were reportedly the top three areas listed.
Based upon official Japanese documents and numerous press reports and Staff interviews, the Staff has confirmed that in 1992 the Aum bought radio time from one of the largest radio stations in Russia – the state-run Mayak Radio — under a three-year contract. The contract cost $800,000 per year, according to a Russian press report. The Staff has confirmed that the Aum broadcast an hour long program on a daily basis. The broadcasts were also relayed via an Aum radio tower in Vladivostok to Japan every evening. The Staff was told by U. S. and Russian government sources that the Aum, also, either owned or leased a radio station in Vladivostok. Aum programs were also televised on Russia’s “2X2” television station.
A Russian press report claims that according to a sect document distributed to Russian followers, the Aum planned to form a company in Russia. The document states that Asahara was predicting an economic crisis in Russia that would lead to increased unemployment. The document asked Aum followers in Russia to quit their jobs and work for this company. The document said that Aum would train its Russian followers in agriculture, medicine, science, and legal services.
Japanese and Russian press reports claim that the Aum formed a security company in Moscow in 1994. Japanese reporters obtained copies of the registration papers for this company, called “Aum Protect.” According to the address on the registration documents, the firm was located in the same building as the Aum’s Moscow headquarters and was established with initial reserves of 2.5 million rubles (approximately $160,000). The Japanese press claims that this Aum company’s staff of twelve had permits to bear ms from Russian authorities and they had received special training in the Russian armed forces. According to former Russian Aum members, quoted in the Russia and Japanese press, “Aum Protect” was used to put physical pressure on sect members who wished to leave the cult.
Even before the Tokyo sarin gas subway incident, the Aum had become controversial in Russia. According to Russian press reports, at the end of 1992, parents of cult members, lead by a Russian Orthodox priest who claims to have deprogrammed up to fifty Aum members, initiated a civil lawsuit against the sect. On July 15, 1994, Russia’s Ministry of Justice annulled the registration of the Russian branch of the Aum on technicalities having to do with the registration procedure, according to Russian press reports. A few weeks later, however, the organization was re-registered by the Moscow Department of Justice as “Moscow’s Aum Religious Association.” Aum also registered a “Committee for the Defense of Freedom” at this time. It is this defense committee that fought the parents’ group three year fight against the Aum, according to Russian and Japanese press reports.
Following the subway attack, activities against the Aum in Russia intensified. By mid-April 1995, President Yeltsin publicly ordered Russia’s Prosecutor General, the Federal Security Service, and the Commission for Religious Organizations in the Russian government to thoroughly investigate the Aum. In response to this edict, Russian press reports indicate that the Russian court that had been hearing the parents’ lawsuit against the Aum banned all of the Aum’s activities in Russia. The court charged that the Aum was harming Russia’s young people and criticized Mayak Radio and the Russian television station for allowing Aum propaganda on its airwaves. The Aum was ordered to pay 20 billion rubles (4 million dollars) to the defendants and it lost its registration as an official religion. The group was also banned from further television and radio broadcasting. Despite these actions, an Aum official in Moscow said: “…Aum will not cease to exist in Russia. We shall continue to exist in other forms, but we shall prevail by all means.”
According to Russian press reports, in June of 1995 the parent group that had originally initiated the court case against the Aum, charged that the Aum continued to operate underground. By July 1995, the Russian press stated that Russian authorities began arresting Aum members. In early July, Russian authorities detained the leader of the Tatarstan branch of the Aum. The leader there told Russian reporters that his branch had 200 followers. On July 21, 1995, Russian law enforcement officials arrested one of the leaders of the Russian branch of the sect, Outi Toshiyatsu, who is a Japanese citizen. Russian authorities charged Toshiyatsu with organizing groups that infringe on citizens’ rights and with causing material damage by cheating or breaching confidence. There has been no trial yet.
The press as well as the parent’s organization opposed to the Aum, have publicly criticized the inaction of Russian authorities in closing the Aum headquarters in Moscow following the court’s decree. According to their allegations, only one of the Aum’s seven centers was closed immediately. In that center, reporters claim that authorities found powders and unpackaged tablets.” Russian press reports claim that Russian officials did not move to close the remaining centers until at least a week after the court order to close the Aum premises and that by then, those centers were completely emptied, all their contents having been removed.
2. Arming With Russian Weapons
It is clear that the Aum was interested in the technology and weapons that are available in Russia. The major proponent of the sect’s expansion into Russia was the Aum’s Construction Minister Kiyohide Hakawa. He was also the mastermind of the Aum’s attempts to arm itself, according to Japanese officials and cult documents.
In total, Hayakawa visited Russia 21 times from 1992-1995, spending a total of 180 days there. The first recorded visit took place from January 11-20, 1992. He visited three other times before mid-March of that year — presumably paving the way for Asahara’s late March visit. From November 1993 to April 1994, Hayakawa visited Russia regularly between one and two times a month. Hayakawa was in Russia from March 17-22 of this year during the sarin attack in Tokyo. He said that he was there to learn about the judiciary system and to renew broadcasting contracts.
The Staff believes that Hayakawa played a key role in obtaining technology and weapons from Russia. Hayakawa helped to purchase a Soviet-made MI-17 helicopter and invited Russian engineers to Japan to help train sect members to maintain the helicopter, according to official Japanese documents.
According to a Japanese Diet member who was giving a report to the Japanese legislature, the helicopter was built in Tatarstan. The Japanese official states that Russian law enforcement authorities were conducting a probe into an alleged bribe of a former Russian parliamentarian in connection with the purchase of the helicopter, according to the Japanese press. The Diet member said that the former Russian parliamentarian allegedly helped expedite the acquisition through Azerbaijan and that the Russian lawmaker under investigation is from the Caucasus and has great influence in that region.
The Staff has confirmed that the helicopter passed through Japanese Customs in 1994 via Azerbaijan Air and that the Aum subsequently inquired about certification for a larger MI-26 helicopter and requirements to fly an MI-26 to Japan from Russia. As indicated in section VI(C), infra, Aum members received helicopter training in the United States in late 1993.
Japanese police sours also allege that Hayakawa brought pistol models to Japan from Russia in the Spring of 1994 in order to produce the pistols in Japan, according to press reports. These sources also claim that documents seized from Hayakawa upon his arrest included blueprints for the Soviet Kalashnikov assault rifle.
There are many allegations that Aum members may have received military training in Russia.
Official Japanese documents and press reports state that a tourist brochure printed by Devenir Millionaire, an Aum- affiliated travel company located in Tokyo, described a tour of Russia that included shooting exercises at Russian military facilities. The brochure claimed that the exercises were performed under the supervision of former Spetznaz members of the Russian armed forces.
Press reports claim that Aum Defense Ministry leader Kibe and Secret Unit member Masaq Furukawa underwent comprehensive pilot training in Russia. The Aum paid Russian instructors at Moscow’s “Airfield Number 3” $15,000 each for a rigorous training course. Furukawa was in charge of planning military training in Russia under a special Russian unit. As indicated elsewhere in this statement, the Staff has confirmed that Kibe did receive helicopter training in South Florida in late 1993.
Documents seized from Hayakawa contained the following schedule for military training:
– Regulation program $2,800 to military
– 1st Day tank armored vehicle ride inside
– 2nd Day various guns, rocket cannon, machine gun
– 3rd Day rifle machine gun
– 4th Day rest
A senior Japanese police officer told the Japanese press that Hayakawa’s documents stated, “if expenses are paid, government will grant approval.” Russian Defense Ministry officials have denied that any training took place at official facilities. In contrast, the Staff found the following Russian and Japanese press reports:
Russian military sources told Japanese reporters that Asahara inspected a military base near Moscow in the summer of 1993, but stated that no training took place at that time. Together with a number of followers, he met military officials there for talks, and inspected the grounds. The officials pointed out that not only Asahara and his followers but many other foreigners were also given access to the base.
A Russian diplomatic source told Russian reporters that, “for many the military is letting in outsiders regardless of whether they are visiting officially or on a private trip.”
A staff member of the Interior Ministry also publicly claimed that the Ministry would not participate in such training but that militants of any rich organization could have used training bases of private security bodies.
The Chief of Staff of the Far Eastern Military District of Ruia has publicly denied rumors that Aum members were trained as pilots at his base but admitted that there are many private firms and air companies with helicopters at their disposal. The spokesman opined that one of these firms or a pilots’ club may have trained the sect members. He noted that in 1993 the local press published a report concerning the death of a Japanese tourist in the crash of a helicopter belonging to a private company.
In addition to obtaining conventional arms and training, the Aum apparently saw Russia as a source for more exotic, and far more deadly, weapons. At the time of his arrest, Hayakawa had information about a gas laser weapon. His documents referred to the name of a Russian city where ‘There is a weapons market” and noted its distance from Moscow, according to Japanese press. Hayakawa’s documents also indicated that the sect was interested in obtaining a space-launch rocket, according to the Japanese press. According to press accounts, Japanese officials said that the documents include a reference to a Russian Proton rocket and reference its prices and the need to build a base in Japan.
The Proton rocket is capable of carrying a satellite. The press has speculated that Russia’s Khunichev Space Center, which is the designer and producer of the TOPOL rocket, had some sort of relationship with the Aum. Recently, however, the public relations office of the Center announced that the Center has never had any contact with the sect.
The Aum’s interests apparently extended to the most devastating of weapons. There are references in the documents seized from Hayakawa to the desired purchase of nuclear weapons. The documents contain the question “how much is a nuclear warhead?” and lists several prices. It is unclear whether the references are reflections of actual discussions or negotiations.
3. Allegations of Influence in Russia
Much has been written in the press about the relationship between the Aum and officials of the Russian government. Most of these allegations have been denied, in whole or in part, by the officials in question. Little has actually been confirmed by U.S. or Japanese government officials.
The following are some of the allegations made by Russian and Japanese press reports:
That Asahara led a delegation of 300 Aum members to Russia in March 1992. During that trip, Asahara met with Parliament Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy and former Russian parliament speaker Russian Khasbulatov.
That Russian parliamentarian Vitaliy Savitsky, chairman of the Duma’s Religious Affairs Committee told fellow parliamentarians that, “his committee seriously suspected that Aum Shinrikyo had been assisted in its penetration into Russia by Russian intelligence services.”
That the premier nuclear research facility in Russia, the Kurchatov Institute, had Aum followers as employees.
That during 1992-93 Aum leaders visiting Russia approached Russian science officials to seek laser and nuclear technologies and that Shoko Asahara met Nikolay Basov while Asahara was in Moscow in 1992. Basov is a 1964 Nobel prize winner for his research on the principle of laser technology.
That Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Oleg Lobov, received anywhere from $500,000 to even $100 million from the Aum. This relationship started in December 1991 and continued through 1995.
That a Russian known to be a secretary of Lobov sent facsimiles to Hayakawa in Japan and that Hayakawa visited Lobov during his visits to Russia throughout the 1992-1995 time period.
That no one from Moscow asked Russian Embassy officials to check out the Aum and that Lobov met with Aum officials on his own, without informing the Embassy or asking its advice. The sources said that the February 1992 meeting was agreed to without the participation of the Russian Foreign Ministry or intelligence services prior to Lobov’s trip to Japan. No leading Embassy staffers were present at the meeting.
All of the officials have denied allegations that they helped the Aum. The Staff has discovered photographs that appeared in Aum publications purporting to be Rutskoy Khasbulatov, Basov, and Lobov with Aum leader Asahara. Furthermore, in a press statement quoted on page one of the March 30, 1995, Russian language edition of Moscow Izvetsiya, Lobov admit to meeting with Aum officials but states that he was duped by them due to his “charitable nature” and neither the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Russian intelligence service warned him away from them.
The Staff has reviewed an official Japanese document that corroborates limited aspects of the above allegations. The document states:
In Fall 1991, Aum Shinrikyo gave a message promising aid to Russia, to a Russian business person in Tokyo who had been asking many organizations for such aid.
In December 1991, this business person visited Russia with Hayakawa, then the cult’s administration director, and met with Mr. Lobov, the President of Russian-Japan College, present Russian Secretary of Security Council, Mr. Muravjbv, the Secretary General, and Mr. Khushchov, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
In February 1992, Mr. Lobov was invited to Japan by Nissho-Iwai Co., Ltd, and met with Asahara.
In March 1992, by chartering an Aeroflot aircraft, a delegation of 300 cult followers headed by Asahara visited Russia and met with Rutskoy, Khasbulatov, and Lobov.
In addition, the Staff has been able to confirm, through a visit to the Kurchatov Institute, that an employee of the Institute was, and still is, a member of the Aum. The nature of any of the relationships alleged above, if indeed a relationship existed, remains unconfirmed.
4. The Aum in Other CIS States
The Aum attempted to open offices in other states of the former Soviet Union. The Staff has confirmed that there are some Aum disciples in Kiev, Ukraine. They petitioned government officials in Kiev to recognize the Aum as an official religious group in September 1993. The Ukrainian government ignored the request. The request included the names of ten Ukrainians from Kiev who claimed that they were Aum members.
In December 1993, the Aum petitioned for recognition in Belarus. In Belarus, the capital city officials rejected the request to open an Aum branch and banned Aum from using radio facilities to air religious messages.
B. The Aum Shinrikyo in Australia
The Aum’s most intriguing presence may be in Australia. The Staff has confirmed that the Aum was in Australia from April 1993 to October 1994. From documents provided to the Staff by the Australian Federal Police, the Staff determined the cult purchased a 500,000 acre sheep farm in Banjawarn, Australia located approximately 375 miles northeast of Perth, Western Australia’s state capital. In order to purchase this farm, the cult formed a front company named Clarity Investments, Ltd. in May 1993 and another company, Maha Posya Australia, Ltd. in June 1993.
Maha Posya was also used to import electrical equipment including transformers, static converters, generators, coaxial cabling, batteries, meters and tools and protective equipment into Australia in September 1993.
The Australian Federal Police gave the Staff documents confirming that in April 1993, three members of Aum Shinrikyo arrived in Perth from Tokyo. The three included Construction Minister Kiyohide Hayakawa, who was also the person instrumental in setting up the Aum’s operations in Russia, and Intelligence Minister Yoshihiro Inoue. They hired an Australian citizen of Japanese heritage who was a real estate agent based in Perth, to view remote farming properties in Western Australia which were then for sale. They were evasive with the agent about their specific requirements; however, it became apparent that they were looking for a remote area with and conditions. The group indicated that they wanted to inspect properties where they could conduct experiments of benefit to humankind.
The group was flown to several properties in the period April 23- 26. After landing at each station, they went off by themselves for some hours. While inspecting these properties, they conducted unknown experiments utilizing a laptop computer, attachments, and electrodes which were placed in the ground. Hayakawa and another of the Aum leaders in the threesome may have also traveled to Tasmania and an area in South Australia where a large uranium deposit is located.
Ultimately, the group decided on the property in Banjawarn, an area where there is a known uranium deposit. In April 1993, Hayakawa allegedly offered to purchase Banjawarn Station for cash; however, the offer was refused by the – owner. Following this refusal, the Aum formed Clarity Investments and Maha Posya Australia. These companies were created for the claimed purpose of applying for mining and exploration leases. In June 1993, the Aum used Maha Posya as a front company to purchase Banjawarn Station for approximately $400,000. Asahara and Yasuko Shimada, an Australian citizen of Japanese descent and sect member were named as directors of each company.
Hayakawa contacted a consulting geologist after learning that Banjawarn Station is a pastoral lease, meaning that other individuals could enter the property for the purpose of prospecting for minerals. Hayakawa did not want any unauthorized person to enter Banjawarn Station. It is unclear if he succeeded in having the lease changed; however, the Aum did purchase eight mining leases from the Western Australia Department of Minerals and Energy in September 1993 for approximately $4700 each.
The Staff has confirmed that at about this same time Hayakawa and another cult member, Tsuyoshi Maki, applied for tourist visas at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. Hayakawa and Maki arrived in Perth on September 3, 1993. Shortly after arriving in Australia, they met with their consulting geologist. During that meeting they told the geologist that they wished to obtain a ship and inquired of her what price they could expect to pay. They also mentioned at the meeting that they wanted to export the uranium ore from Banjawarn Station in 44 gallon drums. During the following week, Hayakawa and Maki engaged an Australian travel agent to make arrangements for six four-wheel drive vehicles and a chartered aircraft. The Staff has confirmed that at the end of that week cult leader Shoko Asahara arrived in Perth with 24 followers from Japan, including five females under the age of fifteen who were traveling without their parents. Also in the group were
Hideo Murai, the sect’s Science & Technology Minister; Niimi Tomomitsu, the Home Affairs Minister; and Inoue. The Aum group traveled with chemicals and mining equipment on which they paid over $20,000 in excess baggage fees. According to the Australian Federal Police report, among the baggage was a mechanical ditch digger, picks, petrol generators, gas masks, respirators, and shovels. A Customs duty of over $15,000 was paid to import these items. Because of the large amount of excess baggage being brought in by the group, Australian Customs searched the entire group. This search revealed four liters of concentrated hydrochloric acid, including some in containers marked as hand soap. Among the other chemicals that Australian customs officials found were ammonium chloride, sodium sulphate, perchloric acid, and ammonium water. All of the chemicals and some of the laboratory equipment were seized by Australian authorities.
As a result of the search, two Aum members — Seichi Endo, a biochemist and Minister of Health & Welfare for the Aum; and Tomomasa Nakagawa, a radical –were charged with carrying dangerous goods on an aircraft. The two members subsequently appeared in Australian court, pleaded guilty, and were fined about $1,750 each. The two claimed that the acid was for gold mining. These same two individuals were later arrested by Japanese authorities in connection with the Tokyo subway attack.
Australian authorities believe that the cult planned the logistics for transporting their goods to Banjawarn Station well in advance of the trip. They chartered three aircrafts and, having lost their chemicals to Australian authorities, the Aum used their real estate agent and their geologist, both of whom were Australian citizens, to obtain new chemicals for them from chemical wholesalers. These chemicals were obtained either in the name of Maha Posya or in the name of the real estate agent’s company. All payments for the chemicals were made in cash. The Aum apparently went to great lengths to obtain these chemicals, including flying one of their members over 4,000 miles from Perth to Melbourne to obtain two 25 gram bottles of a chemical unavailable in Perth. The two bottles cost the Aum a total of $136 — in order to obtain them, the Aum spent over $800 in airfare.
The Aum also tried to hire earthmoving equipment from a mining operation at an adjoining station. The mine operators refused to lend the equipment without a mine worker to operate it to which the Aum did not agree. A backhoe was hired by the Aum without an operator from a rental company for three days, September 16-18, 1993. Digging and evidence of earthmoving equipment has been found on the property.
The Aum also established a laboratory on the Banjawarn property which was stocked with computers and various digital and laboratory equipment. The door of the laboratory was marked with Japanese characters and an English subtitle which read “Toyoda Laboratory.”
This may be a reference to a Toru Toyoda, a sect member who arrived in Australia with Asahara. Witnesses told Australian Federal Police that the laboratory contained laptop computers, digital equipment, glass tubing, glass evaporators, beakers, bunsen burners, and ceramic grinding and mixing bowls. There were limestone or calcrete type rocks on the floor. Other equipment included a small laboratory-size rock crushing machine and two small generators.
The Staff has confirmed from Australian authorities that most of the sect members who are Japanese citizens left Australia by 4 October 1994. In October 1993 Asahara and four of the original group applied for tourist visas to return to Australia; however, acting on information provided by Australian Federal Police, the immigration department refused them visas, along with visas for twelve other Aum members. Asahara petitioned his visa denial with a letter to the Australian Federal Minister for Immigration. In the letter he said he was blind and needed the help of 2 aids. Also, because his life was unr threat, he said he needed 17 bodyguards to accompany him on his trip to Australia. He said that his Tokyo headquarters had been sprayed with diluted harmful gas and that during trips to Russia he had received bomb threats.
In late October 1993, two other Aum members did obtain visas. These two arrived in Perth on October 30, 1993 and stayed at Banjawarn Station until April 1994. While there, one of the Aum members petitioned the Western Australian Pastoral Board to de-stock Banjawarn station of its sheep. This petition was denied. Inspections by Western Australian Pasostral Board members revealed that several wells were either fouled or not operating and the Board called for an Australian manager to be hired for the property or the lease would be revoked.
The sect members did hire a manager. While at the property, the manager says that the two sect members maintained constant contact with their superiors in Japan, with instructions being received by fax or telephone. The manager did not witness any experiments or mineral exploration. The equipment and chemicals inside the laboratory were removed about March or April 1994 to accommodate sheep-shearing teams. The Aum members insisted that either the sheep not be shorn or that they be shorn by others who would be flown in from Japan. Approximately 2,000 sheep were subsequently sold to a slaughterhouse shortly after shearing.
On April 28, 1994 these two cult members returned to Japan. They were replaced by an Aum member who is an Australian citizen and Tsuyoshi Maki, a Japanese citizen who had been part of the Aum’s original advance team.
Shortly after the sarin gas attack in Matsumoto in June 1994, Banjawarn Station was offered for sale by Maha Posya. Maki handled the details of the sale and seemed anxious that the sale proceed quickly. The property was sold in late July 1994 for $237,000, almost $165,000 less than what the Aum had paid for it only a year earlier. The Aum’s activity on the property is partially known and, to some degree, still a mystery. Various police sources indicate that Hayakawa was interested in extracting uranium from Australia for the development of nuclear weapons.
Documents seized from Hayakawa include some ten pages written during Hayakawa’s April-May 1993 visit to Australia which refer to the whereabouts of properties of uranium in Australia, including one reference praising the quality of the uranium in the state of South Australia. Australia is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium ore.
It appears, however, that the Aum was interested in more than just mining on the Banjawam property. The Chairwoman for the aboriginal community living near the sheep station, Phyllis Thomas, said that she and other Aborigines saw about five people wearing full- length suits and helmets on the remote site in late August 1993. The suited sect members were standing by a twin engine airplane and others were in the plane.
In March 1995, shortly after the Tokyo subway attack, the Australian police were invited to the sheep station by its new owners who had found papers with Japanese writing and various chemicals. The chemicals that police found could have been used for mineral processing or to make an irritant gas. They included perchloric acid, nitric acid, ferric chloride, ammonia solution, hydrochloric acid, chloroform, potassium dichromate, and other unidentified solutions.
The Staff has confirmed that these chemicals are almost identical to the chemicals carried on board the aircraft by Asahara and his people when they flew to Perth in 1993. Only 2-3 liters of each chemical was found in an outhouse which bore a sign saying “Laboratory,’ while larger quantities were located in a portable building. Although the Aum members had originally stated that the chemicals they sought to bring into Australia were for the purposes of gold mining, there was no evidence of gold mining having been carried out.
The current owners of the property have stated that the Japanese occupants had a number of gas masks in their possession but that they took them when they left. One gas mask was left behind and seized by Australian police. Paper dust masks were also located in a plastic bag bearing Japanese writing.
The Staff has confirmed that the Aum conducted experiments with sarin on sheep at its property in Banjawarn. The Australian Justice Minister, Duncan Kerr said that members of the Aum tested sarin in Australia before the Tokyo subway attack. He said that tests on wool and soil samples taken from the Banjawarn station had confirmed traces of the chemical. Kerr said that sarin residue had been found in and near a group of about 29 dead sheep on the station.
Specifically, traces of the acid that results when sarin breaks down was found in the soil and in the wool of the sheep found in the area. In addition, authorities found a document written in Japanese and titled ‘Banjawam Station.” This document suggested the sect may have been experimenting on sheep. The document contained notations for classifying dead or injured sheep by using unique Japanese markings. Australian Federal Police have also confirmed that some of the sheep were killed with blunt force to the head.
C. The Aum Shinrikyo in the United States
The Aum Shinrikyo came to the United States officially in late 1987 when it incorporated in New York City under the name Aum USA Company, Ltd., a not-for-profit corporation.
Although the office purported to promote the cult’s book sales and recruitment of followers, the Staffs review of records and documents, and interviews of the manager of the New York office, establish that the office was also acting as a purchasing agent for the cult as it attempted to obtain high technology equipment, computer software and hardware, and other items from the United States, much of which was intended to assist the cult’s militarization program. Additionally, in the 1990’s the cult utilized a purchasing agent in California to facilitate acquisition of similar technology and hardware, and military equipment such as gas masks.
The total extent of the Aum’s efforts to obtain equipment and technology in the United States is not known. As indicated in this section, some of the items sought by the Aum were not delivered because U.S. company representatives were suspicious of the Aum and its purported end-use of the product. This is a good example of self- policing by the private sector and efforts to sensitize industry to their responsibility should be promoted. Other purchases appear to have been preempted only by the Aum’s March 20th attack which gave notice to all of their criminal intentions. And, in certain instances, the Aum was simply able to access technology whose use is still unaccounted for. Although the Staff is aware that U.S. government agencies are investigating this activity, ultimately, we will never know how successful the Aum was in its efforts to militarize in the U. S.
1. New York City Office
According to corporate records, the New York City office was initially organized by Fumihiro Joyu, who claimed his address at 53 Crosby Street in New York. At various times it was staffed by different personnel including Yumiko Hiraoka, Yasua Hiramatsu, Masuru Jingo, Isao Yamamoto and others. From 1988 through the present the cult also maintained a small office at 8 East 48th Street; #2E; 242 East 87 Apt 5d; 8 East 48th Street Apt. 4f.
The articles of incorporation were amended in 1988 and at that time Chisuo Matsumoto appeared as Director of the corporation. Chisuo Matsumoto is the lay name of Asahara. The articles established the Aum as a tax exempt organization. That same year, Joyu, as Treasurer/Director registered Aum USA as a charity in New York. In the section of the application requesting a description of the organization, Joyu wrote: “AUM U.S.A. Co. Ltd. is a non profit religious organization. The purposes for which the corporation is formed are to foster spiritual development through the study and practice of eastern philosophy and religion to encourage means for extending awareness(sic), such as meditation, seminars, classes, workshops, to offer nutritional information and exercises which will further the development of spiritual well-being.”
In the early 1990’s corporate documents of the Aum and tax records indicated that Yumiko Hiraoka became the primary manager of the Aum’s New York office where all office related documents (bills, ledgers, accounts, tax records) were in her name.
Hiraoka describes herself as a nun and sect leader of the New York branch of the cult. She indicated she is in her early 40’s, although she is unable to be more exact as she measures her age in “monk” years. Based upon observations made by the Staff during interviews with her, she clearly is still a devotee of Asahara.
The Staff has reviewed the business records of the cult’s New York Office provided by Hiraoka pursuant to subpoena. It should be noted that the records provided may not reflect all of the cult’s activities. According to Hiraoka, in late March 1995, within days after the subway attack in Tokyo, Hiramatsu appeared at the New York Office and took numerous records of the cult’s transactions back to Japan.
There is substantial documentation of efforts by Hiraoka and her staff to sell dozens of books published by the Aum such as Is Aum Shinrikyo Insane?, The Secret Method to Develop Your Superhuman Power, The Doom’s Day, and Curable High Blood Pressure. A review of the records provided, however, establishes that the cult in the years preceding the attack sold less than 100 books per year. During this same time period, despite a claim of aggressive recruitment by Hiraoka, the cult maintained an active membership of less than a few dozen devotees in the New York area. Some governmental sources estimate that the number was much higher, closer to 200. There is no evidence to support the higher number.
There was also an Aum member in Colorado, according to Hiraoka, who was in regular contact with the New York Office and translated Asahara’s work into English.
A review of the telephone records reflects very substantial telephone communications both internationally to Japan and elsewhere including Canada, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Israel, Australia, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria, and domestically within the United States. As expected, there was substantial telephone activity in the days following the March 20, 1995 subway attack.
Interestingly, in the days following the subway attack, the New York Office of the cult recognized they had a substantial public relations problem. It transmitted the following message to numerous “experts” or “would-be experts”: “To Whom It May Concern: The Independent Research Committee for the Tokyo Subway Gas Attack urgently needs a group of impartial specialists from various fields. Please read the following guidelines and call (212)421-3687 if interested in this investigation. We will greatly appreciate your cooperation.”
Telephone records also support substantial contacts with news media outlets.
The Staffs investigation further reflects that the cult’s New York office was actively involved in the procurement and attempted procurement of high technology items with possible military use. Though most of the documents at the Aum’s headquarters were taken by the cult after the Tokyo incident, entries in the Aum’s ledger reflect various payments to technology and laser companies. The cult utilized various corporate entities to facilities these transactions including its primary alter ego, Aum USA Company LTD., and the company Maha Posya.
In documents received from Hiraoka the above entities claim the cult’s New York offices as their corporate headquarters or their New York office. Both Aum USA and Maha Posya have Chisuo Matsumoto (a/k/a Asahara) as their director. Further, other directors and officers of these corporations are Aum members. Undoubtedly, based upon the above, R is clear that these corporations were alter egos of the cult itself wholly controlled by the cult and intended to conduct the cult’s business.
Through these companies and the effort of its agents including Hiraoka, Hiramatsu and others, the Aum negotiated for purchase of various items.
2. High Tech Acquisitions
In August 1993, the cult attempted to obtain a Mark IVxp Interferometer from the Zygo Corporation in Middlefield, Connecticut. The Mark IVxp is a laser measuring system primarily used for measuring lens systems, optical components and flat and spherical surfaces. A dual commercial/military use item, the system has numerous applications including the measuring of plutonium. The U.S. Commerce Department prohibits the export of this machine to certain countries including Libya, Iran, North Korea and Cuba.
In August of 1993, representatives of Zygo received contacts from the Aum, including telefaxes from Hiraoka. On August 23, Zygo issued a price quotation for the Mark IVxp system at $102,777.96. Additionally, the Aum requested a vibration isolation table which with modest reconfiguration can be used to measure spherical surfaces including plutonium used in nuclear weapons.
Ultimately, the Aum did not receive the system. According to Zygo, the transaction was never consummated because Zygo became suspicious of the transaction and contacted export licensing authorities.
In 1994, the Aum completed two sales transactions with Lydall Technical Paper of Rochester, New Hampshire, totaling approximately $32,000, for HEPA media, which is an air filtration media. This media, which is roll goods, is utilized for air filtration in “clean rooms.” The Staff would note that the Aum constructed “clean rooms” at their compounds in Tokyo in facilitate the handling and production of sarin and other chemical and biological weapons.
In January 1995, the Aum purchased molecular modeling software from Cache Scientific of Beaverton, Oregon. According to representatives with Cache, the entire contact with the Aum consisted of a telephone call requesting literature, a sales order and a shipment. The shipment cost approximately $2995.00. The software purchased was the most basic in their product line, consisting of a manual and computer diskettes.
According to Cache representatives, their product enables a chemist to synthesize molecular experimentation on a computer screen instead of in a laboratory, which results in savings of time and money. He also stated that downloads from other databanks (i.e., Brookhaven’s Protein Data Bank) could be ported into Cache programs for analysis and data modeling. In a similar effort, Hiramatsu, on behalf of the Aum, contacted Biosym Technologies, Incorporated, also a molecular design software company, located in San Diego. During February and March of 1995, Hiramatsu negotiated with Biosym for the purchase of a sophisticated computer hardware system and over twenty [error] hardware for $47,000 and agreed to a thirty day evaluation period for the software products. Additionally, Biosym uploaded approximately twenty samples (out of 200-300 available) from the Brookhaven Protein Data Bank. According to the company, they are a licensee of Brookhaven Laboratories and are authorized to distribute information from the data bank.
Following the Tokyo gas attack, the computer hardware was returned to Biosym but the disk drive containing the software was missing. Allegedly, this disk drive was taken to Japan. The drive was later returned to [error] by the Aum but it is unknown if the sect was able to download the information it contained. There were protections on the software to prevent such unauthorized removal.
The software, as in the case with other company’s products sought by the Aum, is used to model molecular structures during scientific and medical research. Experts told the Staff that the Aum could use such advanced software to assist them in testing theoretical designs for toxins. It should be noted that this software is covered by export restrictions to countries such as China. The fact that Japan is not among the countries included in such restrictions demonstrate that sub- national groups located in non-restricted countries, and who are engaged in development of sophisticated weapons, are not affected by export restrictions.
In the weeks and days preceding the March20, 1995, Tokyo subway attack, the Aum attempted to purchase a half million dollar laser system from the California manufacturing company, Hobart Laser Products of Livermore, California.
In March, 1995, Hiramatsu, contacted sales and technical representatives of Hobart. Hobart manufactures extremely sophisticated lasers for industrial and scientific applications involving cutting and welding. According to the company, for approximately two weeks leading up to March 18, 1995, the Aum negotiated for the purchase of a three kilowatt Laser Welder with installation support. The system costs approximately $450,000.
The Hobart personnel were confused by the Aum’s intended end use for the machine so they contacted Yasuo Murai, the Aum’s Minister of Science & Technology in Japan. In their contact with Murai and in a subsequent meeting with Hobart representatives on March 8 in the United States, Hobart representatives attempted, to no avail, to determine the intended usage of the equipment.
From the discussions with Hiramatsu and Murai, the operating parameter set forth by Murai, allowed Hobart to draw the following technical conclusions:
The Aum wanted the laser to be operable from within a glove box, a sealed room environment, outside of which the operator could manipulate the equipment through the usage of thick gloves. Experts have advised the staff that this is particularly useful if biologic toxins, aerobic or contact poisons, or nuclear emissions are of concern.
Murai indicated the laser would be used to weld aluminum oxide (AIOx). The welding was to be of canisters, and perhaps canisters within canisters. AIOx is highly resistant to chemical corrosion, even more so than stainless steel, and the welder can operate with liquid nitrogen as a coolant. It is also extremely strong and can withstand high pressure. Aum had allegedly stockpiled large amounts of sheet AIOx for this purpose.
Of primary concern to Hiramatsu and Murai was the rapid delivery of this expensive laser. Hobart representatives were told that it was required immediately and cash was available. This request was impossible: the laser is custom built, after receipt of the order it would probably would take several weeks to months to complete and ship. Hobart told the Staff that there are also serious export control requirements.
Hobart’s representative also told the Staff that he learned that Hiramatsu was buying up antiquated chip manufacturing equipment and stockpiling same in California for shipment to a front company in Silicon Valley. The Staff has been advised by various U.S. governmental sources that they theorize the cult intended to use this equipment to fill sham computer-manufacturing shops in Japan or Taiwan. These sources indicate that these companies would then be used to justify the importation and usage of chemicals such as arsenide, chlorides and fluorides, which can be obtained in the wafer and chip-etching business but are more realistically used by the Aum for the manufacture of toxic nerve and blood gases.
In March of 1995, Yasuo Hiramatsu contacted Tripos, Incorporated of St Louis, Missouri. The company specializes in molecular design software. This software is used by highly trained physicists and chemists to develop new therapeutic drugs in the preclinical design phase. It can also be used to research and develop biological toxins. According to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, people without extensive experience in this area would have difficulty in using and applying the software.
According to Tripos sales personnel, Tripos was suspicious of Hiramatsu’s motives regarding the purchase of their software from early on. Hiramatsu first contacted the New Jersey office of Tripos from California on March 3, 1995. During the course of their contacts with Hiramatsu, he consistently refused to provide detailed information on either the company (Aum) or the intended use for the software.
Tripos installed all the available “modules” of their software on a computer workstation provided by the Aum. The software had keyword protection and was timed to expire thirty days after installation. Following the revelation that the Aum was suspected in the Tokyo gas attack, Tripos attempted to retrieve the software. The disk drive containing the software was intercepted by U.S. law enforcement personnel in a shipment outward bound to Tokyo from California. While the software did have keyword protection, this could have easily been bypassed. The thirty day expiration protection could also be avoided by turning back the internal clock on the computer in which it is installed. The total worth of the software was over $507,000.
The last contact Tripos had with Hiramatsu was on March 21, 1995, the day after the Tokyo gas attack. The CEO of Tripos told the Staff that the software could be used to determine if a scientific configuration was feasible but would only be the first step in development. He stated that biological toxins are relatively simple and the software was much more sophisticated than what would be needed to develop toxins.
3. West Coast Activities
Beginning in June 1994, the Aum established a relationship with a purchasing agent on the West Coast to assist in obtaining military technology and hardware. The company, International Computers and Peripherals (“ICP”) was a U.S. business in California formed to export computer parts to Japan. The partners in the venture, Phillip Rupani, Cameron Hader and Kevin Singh (a/k/a Kevin Guneja), sought Japanese companies as potential clients. In June, 1994, the Aum, organized as Maha Posya, engaged ICP as an export agent.
Through telefax, telephone, and personal contacts, ICP developed a business relationship with Hiramtsu and Tsuyoshi Maki and began to obtain computer parts presumably for the Aum’s computer stores in Japan. The Staff has interviewed principals with ICP and reviewed their records. ICP estimates that their business with the Aum exceeded a few million dollars by the end of 1994. However, near the end of 1994, Hiramatsu began to make requests for other items. Initially, Hiramatsu wanted to obtain thousands of “serum” bottles, hundreds of mechanical fans and equal amounts of camcorder batteries. Later, Hiramtsu began to inquire about obtaining laser equipment, survival equipment and similar items. At one point, Hiramatsu asked whether ICP knew how to obtain “arms,” a plane, and “container ships.” Hiramatsu told Rupani the arms were for a customer in the Middle East.
ICP told Aum representatives they could not obtain these items but directed him to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In January 1995, the Staff has learned that Maki and Hiramatsu began to seek military equipment from sources in the United States. In late January 1995, Maki attended a Winter Market Show at the Reno Convention Center in Nevada at which time he made contact with a representative of Rothco, a company from Smithtown, New York. Maki inquired about survival equipment and expressed an interest in obtaining gas masks. A week after the January 1995 meeting, Rothco, through telefax received a request from Devenir Millionaire, Inc., another Aum company, wherein Maki requested various items including 200 military style knives, and various types of gas masks. In February, Maki requested Rothco change the purchaser to Maha Posya Inc. because it would make it easier to clear Customs.
After receiving a $1,906.00 wire transfer to their account, Rothco sent samples of the requested items to Japan. In the shipment were a Russian and Japanese gas mask. Rothco shipped these items without applying for or obtaining a State Department license which is required. The following month, Rothco received a request for 400 of the same gas masks with filters and its account in New York City was credited with an additional $3,195.00.
Maki, however, requested that Rothco send the gas masks to ICP of Freemont, California, who would act as a freight consolidator. ICP received the items after Hiramatsu indicated that the Aum wanted to consolidate the items it had obtained in the United States. Various containers were forwarded to ICP, including boxes from Rothco. ICP, through a freight forwarder, started the process of sending the items to Japan in March of 1995.
On March 22, 1995, two days after the Tokyo attack, a source from Japan contacted ICP in California, and told company representatives that he should stop selling to Maha Posya because they were killing people in Japan. At this time, Rupani recalled the Maha Posya shipment from the freight forwarder and returned it to ICP in Freemont, California. Rupani looked in the shipment and discovered it included the gasmasks.
4. Helicopter Training in Florida
In 1993, two Japanese followers of the cult visited the United States to obtain pilot licenses for private helicopters. In October of 1993, members of the Aum came to Dade County, Florida and received flight lessons from Kimura, International, a private flight School in Opa Locka, Florida. The two were Aum Defense Agency Director, Tetsuya Kibe, and Aum member Keiji Tanimura. They both had U.S. social security numbers and airman class 3 certificate numbers. They received a private pilot rating for rotor craft-helicopters on October 31, 1993. Soon after receipt of their licenses, the cult obtained the helicopter from Russia
D. The Aum Shinrikyo in Other Countries
In addition to its efforts to recruit members and obtain and test weapons and technology in Russia, the Aum also established a presence and/or undertook activities in a number of other countries, including Germany, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and the former Yugoslavia. Some of these countries appear to have been used for recruitment purposes, while others appear to have been used for the establishment of purchasing companies or other businesses. In at least one country it appears the Aum attempted to obtain scientific information.
In January 1989, the Aum rented an 825 square foot office in Bonn, Germany for 6,000 Deutsche Mark per month. The office was ostensibly rented for administrative and cultural purposes. A woman named Yoko Shigimara-Haltod, a resident of Bonn, signed the lease and paid the monthly rent. Two telephone numbers are listed for the office in the name of Naruhito Noda; however, no one by that name is listed in the Bonn Population Office.
In June 1991, the Aum sent a letter to the German Embassy in Tokyo requesting permission to send one of its members, Akira Wakatake, to reside in Germany for three years. According to the letter, Wakatake had been a member of the A since 1986 and was a teacher of meditation techniques and yoga. The letter stated that the Aum would be responsible for any costs arising during Wakatake’s stay in Germany, as well as for his personal conduct while in Germany.
Wakatake entered Germany in February 1992. A sign on the Aum office thereafter read “A. Wakatake Buddhismus and Yoga Center Aum.” After several language courses at the Goethe
Institute, Wakatake was granted a trading license by Bonn city authorities in July 1993 which enabled m, in addition to his occupation as a teacher, to sell books and cassettes of the Aum. The Aum was not very successful in recruiting members in Germany. According to press statements made by Wakatake, ten German nationals — but no other Japanese — were members of the Bonn branch of the Aum. At least one member, a French national named Pauline Silbermann- Hashimoto who is married to a Japanese citizen, resided in Munich. It is unclear whether the Bonn office was used for anything other than recruitment efforts; however, on March 21, 1995, the day after the Tokyo subway attack, Shoko Asahara telephoned Wakatake in Bonn and dictated to him the text of a press communiqué to be given to the news agency, Agence France Presse (AFP) in Paris.
The communiqué denied any involvement in the subway incident and accused the Japanese authorities of wanting to eradicate the Aum. Wakatake sent this communiqué to Silbermann-Hashimoto, asking her to translate it into French and to send it to the AFP. The communiqué was received by the AFP via fax machine from Munich on March 21, 1995. In addition, subpoenaed phone logs from Aum’s New York Office show regular contact between Aum offices in New York and Bonn. German law enforcement authorities have no records of any illegal activities by either Wakatake for Silbermann-Hashimoto.
While the Aum’s presence in Germany seemed to have been primarily for recruitment purposes, it’s presence in Taiwan was more business- oriented. In June 1993, the Aum established a company in Taiwan by the name of Dai Hanei (Great Prosperity) as a purchasing agent, ostensibly for the purchase of computer parts. Japanese press, citing police sources, have reported that from April 1993 to March 1995 the Aum sent more than 2.5 billion yen ($25 million), through its Tokyo-based Maha the Taipei branch of a Tokyo foreign exchange bank.
Under Japan’s Foreign Exchange Control Law, transfers of sums in excess of 5 million yen ($50,000) to an offshore account must be reported to the authorities. According to the police sources, when Maha Posya sent more than 5 million yen at a time it reported the money as being used to buy computer parts. The sources confirmed, however, that Maha Posya had bills for computer parts imports totaling only 100 million yen ($1 million). The remaining 2.4 billion yen ($24 million) is apparently unaccounted for.
The police sources reportedly quoted bank officials in Tokyo as saying that a high-ranking Aum member, who was an executive of Maha Posya and the cult’s former Finance Minister, was the individual who made the remittances to Dai Hanei. The sources are also reported to have confirmed that Aum leader Shoko Asahara and the Maha Posya executive visited Taiwan frequently in 1993.
3. Sri Lanka
Relatively little is known about the Aum’s activities in Sri Lanka. It reportedly owns considerable assets in Sri Lanka, including a tea plantation that the Aum began operating in 1992. The Staff has confirmed that the plantation is managed by an individual named Seizo lmoto and that it uses local citizens as employees. The Aum apparently has had several problems operating the plantation, though, including an inability to pay its employees.
Following the attack on the Tokyo subway, a local organization of Buddhist monks petitioned the Sri Lankan President to confiscate the property of the cult and ban it from the country. Sri Lankan police did investigate the plantation, but nothing was found to indicate any connection between the plantation’s operations and the sarin attack.
4. The Former Yugoslavia
At some point, the Aum became very interested in the ideas and inventions of Nikola Tesia, a scientist who experimented in the fields of atmospherics, electromagnetics, fluid dynamics, and geodynamics in the early 1900’s. According to an official of the International Tea Society in the United States, a representative of the Aum in New York City, Yumiko Hiraoka, inquired into the Aum becoming a member of the Society. In January 1995, Hiraoka, the manager of the New York Office, sought to obtain from the Society a number of books on the inventions of Tesia, his patents, and writings. When the Staff inquired as to why the Aum would be interested in Tesia’s work, the official speculated that they may have sought information on Tesia’s experiments with resonating frequencies. He stated that Tesia had experimented in creating earthquakes and that Tesia was quoted as saying that with his technology he could “split the world” in two. He also noted that Tesia had developed a “ray” gun in the 1930’s which was actually a particle beam accelerator. According to the official, this gun was reported to be able to shoot down an airplane at 200 miles.
The official also told the Staff that upon Tesia’s death the U.S. government had seized most of his papers and research notes. When members of the Society have requested information on Tesia’s work under the Freedom of Information Act, much of the material has been “black penned” for national security reasons.
It was for this reason that the Aum sent some of its members to the former Yugoslavia. The Staff has confirmed that from February to April of this year, six members of the cult traveled to the Tesia Museum in Belgrade. There they studied Tesia’s writings on something known as the Tesia Coil, a coil used for alternating current. The members also studied Tesia’s work on high energy voltage transmission and on wave amplification, which Tesia asserted could be used to create seismological disturbances.
The threat posed by the Aum today is unknown. It still has substantial assets, thousands of devotees and authorities are unsure whether its weapons and weapon potential has been neutralized. Furthermore, the anti-Western rhetoric and Armageddon prophecies that fueled the tragic and near-cataclysmic incidents in Tokyo and elsewhere, are still evident.
The cult’s rise and its efforts to obtain and deploy weapons of mass destruction raises numerous policy issues, however, that extend well beyond the specific threat posed by Asahara and his disciples. The Aum was merely one example –a case study — of what may be the most dominant, emerging threat to our national security.
The ease with which the cult accessed the vast international supermarket of weapons and weapons technology is extremely troubling. It is especially troubling in light of the current state of the economies and governments of the former Soviet Union. How much this cult acquired and how much more they could have obtained is still a mystery. How much the next group may be able to acquire is the question that also remains unanswered.
Furthermore, despite the Aum’s relatively overt and far flung activities, not a single U.S. enforcement or intelligence agency perceived them as dangerous, much less a threat to national security, prior to the March 20, 1995 Tokyo subway attack. More than a few representatives of these agencies indicated, as one candid counterterrorism officer admitted, ‘they simply were not on anybody’s radar screen.” How does a fanatic, intent on creating Armageddon, with relatively unlimited funds and a worldwide network of operatives, escape notice of western intelligence and law enforcement agencies outside of Japan? Our witnesses today and tomorrow, as well as at subsequent hearings, will put in context our national security needs and our government’s capabilities. A number of questions and observations, based upon our inquiry today, may provide areas for further discussion and improvement:
Intelligence: U.S. intelligence agencies are apparently focusing heavily on official state proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Do they need to allocate increased resources to WMD terrorism? Do we need to enhance U.S. intelligence agencies’ expertise in biology, chemistry, and nuclear physics? Do we also need to increase their development and acquisition of new technologies to help the U.S. government detect and combat WMD?
Need to coordinate U.S. government agencies: In the fure any CBW terrorist action is likely to involve foreign groups or activities. This means that intelligence organizations are likely to have information on such organizations and activities. In addition, law enforcement agencies with international presence like the U.S. Customs Service and FBI may also have information concerning these groups. Law enforcement and intelligence sources must have regular contact and interchange of ideas. Because the goal should be to prevent an attack before it even get to the formative stages, law enforcement and intelligence agencies may not know what information the other needs or has. A critical need apparently exists for U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information and coordinate activities in regard to WMD terrorism. Is there a need for creating a national clearinghouse or all sources intelligence/law enforcement center to give U.S. government analysts access to all relevant terrorist information from whatever source derived to analyze terrorist threats and assist prosecutions? Given the overlapping missions within our government, is there a need for a single, high- level Administration-wide coordinator?
Response Capabilities: During video footage of the Tokyo sarin gas attack, local police could be seen entering the subway without protective clothing next to military or other government officials encased in the most modem protective CBW uniforms. Apparently many of the would-be rescuers became some of the first casualties. Obviously, medical, rescue, fire and law enforcement personnel from the federal to the local level must be trained and equipped to handle a CBW incident. Likewise, hospitals and clinics must be prepared with proper supplies and antidotes to respond to a CBW event. Are procedures in place and adequate resources available for all U.S. government and private agencies to handle such events? In particular, are current funding levels for our Federal Emergency Management Agency adequate to successfully coordinate a national response to this threat?
Strengthen export controls: The trend recently in the U.S. has been toward liberalizing export controls. Should policy makers revisit this policy and consider strengthening controls on some of the dual use items used for making WMD materials?
Promote Self-Policing: In the case study of the Aum, certain U.S. companies who were approached by the Aum and its corporate alter- egos, became suspicious of the Aum’s end-use of their products. Ultimately, certain transactions were not consummated. Conversely,- other companies did not ask the right questions or simply did not care. The U.S. business community has a duty to its consumers and our Nation to recognize dangers of many of its dual-use items and act responsibly. Although, to a great extent, the case study of the Aum appears to demonstrate some success with our joint government/industry educational program, can and should more be done in this area to improve corporate awareness?
Ratification of CWC: Since the Subcommittee’s last hearing on this issue in 1989, the CWC has been under consideration. Would ratification of this treaty give the U.S. government increased leverage in halting the spread of chemical weapons? Would this be especially true if ratification were accompanied by passage of a domestic law that instituted a national, computerized clearing house for dual- use chemicals and apparatus used to make chemicals, similar to export control mechanisms that track end-users and give the end- users’ purpose for purchasing the item?
Open source information on WMD: Recipes and directions for making weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are readily available in the open literature and now on the Internet. The U.S. government is considering declassifying additional information about the U.S. biological weapons program. Does such open source literature on WMD makes it easier for would-be terrorists and other governments to make these weapons? Is there a need to study how to control access to such information while still safeguarding our First Amendment guarantees?
Global cooperation: Few terrorists are now just domestic terrorists. Almost all are now international terrorists to some degree. Most travel and buy goods throughout the world. Are additional international agreements needed among at least the P-8 countries (G-7 plus Russia) to address this international aspect of terrorism? Is there a need for an agreement that would encourage that member countries share information involving WMD terrorism that may have international implications?
AUM SHINRIKYO MEMBERS
AOYAMA, YOSHINOBU Aum Shinrikyo lawyer
ASAHARA, SHOKO Aum Shinrikyo leader
Asano, Shinya Aum member, former Japanese Self Defense Force member
Chow, Tom Head of the Aum affiliate in Taiwan
ENDO, SEIICHI Head of the Aum Health and Welfare Ministry and top biologist
Fujinaga, Kozo Aum Science and Technology Subordinate
Furukawa, Masao Subordinate to Hayakawa – organized shooting tour to a Russian military base
Hara, Yoshiro Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
Hasegawa, Shigeyuki runs two Aum affiliated chemical companies
Hashimoto, Saturo Aum Home Affairs Ministry subordinate – sprayed Sarin related to the Tokyo attack
Hatakeyama, Hironobu Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
HAYAKAWA, KIYOHIDE Construction Ministry Head
HAYASHI, IKUO Head of Aum’s medical division, the Treatment Ministry
Hayashi, Yasuo Aum member in the Science and Technology Ministry – connected by the Japanese police to the Tokyo attack 1995
Hiramatsu, Yasuo Upper management member of Aum who acted as purchasing agent for United States purchases
Hiraoka, Yumiko Aum Nun and sect leader of Aum’s New York office
Hirata, Masayuhi Aum doctor
Hirose, Kenichii Indicted for participating in the Tokyo gas attack
Horii, Takahisa Aum doctor
Ikeda, Itsuro Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
INOUE, YOSHIHIRO Head of Aum’s Intelligence Agency and Action Squads
Jo, Hiroyuhi The man who stabbed Murai
JOYU, FUMIHIRO Former Aum leader Moscow – since March 1995, he has been the lead spokesman for Aum in Japan
Kadokawa, Tomoki Science and Technology Ministry subordinate Katahira, Kenichiro Aum doctor
KIBE, TETSUYA Aum’s Defense Agency Chief
Kikuchi, Naoko Aum Health and Welfare Ministry member related by the Japanese police to the Tokyo attack
Kitamura, Koichi Aum Home Affairs subordinate related by the Japanese police to the Tokyo attack
Kobayashi, Katsuhiko Science and Technology Ministry subordinate, chemical team member, and secretary to a senior Aum member
Maruyama, Michimaro Aum member connected to the Tokyo attack
MATSUMOTO, CHIZUO Lay alias for Asahara
Matsumoto, Takeshi Aum member suspected in the abduction of a Japanese notary official
MATSUMOTO, TOMOKO Asahara’s wife
Mitsuka, Yoshihiro Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
Moriwaki, Yoshiko Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
MURAI, HIDEO Head of the Aum’s Science and Technology Ministry
NAKADA, KIYOHIDE An Aum senior sect member in the Home Affairs Ministry and Construction Ministry
NAKAGAWA, TOMOMASA The Aum’s Household Agency Director
Nakamoto, Hideo Mitsubishi employee arrested for suspicion of helping an Aum and former Self Defense Force member steal company secrets
Nakamura, Noburu Aum Home Affairs Ministry subordinate – sprayed Sarin related to the Tokyo attack
Nakano, Katsuhiko Aum member arrested in connection with gun manufacturing
NIIMI, TOMOMITSU Head of the Aum Home Affairs Ministry
Ochida, Kotaro an Aum pharmacist – strangled by Yasuda
Oikawa, Takayuki Aum member – arrested in connection with gun manufacturing
Oka, Hideki Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
Okada, Hiroyuki Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
Ouchi, Toshiyasu Defacto head of the Aum sect in Moscow since March 1995
Sasaki, Kayoko Aum member connected by the Japanese police to preparations for the Tokyo attack
Satoru, Hirata Aum Intelligence Agency member connected to the kidnapping of a Japanese notary official
Shirai, Takahisa Aum member and former Japanese Self Defense Force member
Sotozaki, Kiyotaka Aum member connected by the Japanese police to the Tokyo attack
Sugimoto, Shigeo Aum Home Affairs Ministry member indicted for the Tokyo gas attack – alleged to have strangled another Aum member
Takahashir, Katsuya Aum Intelligence Agency subordinate Takizawa, Kazuyoshi Aum scientist
Tashita, Seiji Aum member connected by the Japanese police to the Tokyo attack
Terajima, Keiji Aum Home Affairs Ministry subordinate – helped make Sarin
Togashi, Wakashio Aum Science and Technology subordinate
Tomita, Takashi Aum Home Affairs Ministry subordinate
Tonosaki, Kiyotaka Aum member indicted for Tokyo gas attack
Toyoda, Toru Aum member indicted for Tokyo gas attack
TSUCHIYA, MASAMI Head of the Aum’s Chemical Division of the Science and Technology Ministry and the top chemist
Uchiyama, Rie Aum member – kidnapped her father
Watabe, Kazumi Aum Science and Technology Ministry subordinate and engineer
Yamagata, Akira Aum Home Affairs Ministry subordinate and former Japanese Self Defense Force member – alleged to have used VX gas to kill renegade Aum members
Yasuda, Hideaki Aum member who strangled Ochida
Yokoyama, Masat Aum member indicted for Tokyo gas attack
This document was compiled and prepared by Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ Staff using police records, news articles, and other open sources.
ALL UPPER CASE INDICATES KEY AUM MEMBERS.
APPENDIX B, “THE COST OF DEVOTION”
AUM SHINRIKYO FACILITIES
Okamura Tekko cult took over Hydraulic cylinder factory, 60-70 cult members work there
Tomizawa Yamanashi Prefecture Aum Facility to produce firearms
Matsumoto Aum two story facility
Tokyo Aum HQ in Tokyo
Tokyo Aum Co. HQ 287 Setagaya
NYC Aum Supreme Truth 8 East 48th St, NYC
Shizuoka Prefect Aum facility 995
Yamanashi Prefect Aum facility
Kamikuishiki Prefecture Aum Training Center at the foot of Mt. Yamanshi Fuji
Bonn Aum sect activities
Tokyo Nakano Ward Aum affiliated hospital
New York City Small Aum chapter
Okinawa Prefecture Aum facility
Namino, Kumanoto Aum HQ before Kamikuishiki, evacuated
Tomizawa, Yamanashi Aum facility. Police seized steel pipes resembling gun barrels.
Vladivostok, Russia Aum attempt to lease Mil-26 transport helicopter
Ukraine Alleged to have approached arms dealer to purchase two T-72s main battle tanks
Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Aum commune
Zaire Aum studied alleged ebola outbreak
Naganohara, Gunma Aum facility
Osaka, Cuo Ward Aum facility
Fujinomiya, Shizouka Aum facility
Omiya, Saitama Aum Apartment
AUM SHINRIKYO COMPANIES
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
A.U.M. Company LTD
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
AUM USA CO., LTD 53 Crosby Street
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
Aum Supreme Truth 8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
8 East 48th Street, #2E
NY, NY 10017
Aum’s Computer Support Center,
3-chome, Minami Nijo
Chuo-Ku, Sapporo City
Aum’s Computer Support Center,
Osaka Nihonbashi Shop
Sanki Medical building
Aum’s Computer Support Center,
Aum’s Computer Support Center,
Hasegawa Chemical Company
Hikari Seimitsu Kogo
Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture
Imagawa Juban Yaki, Kameido
Mahapsya Inc of Japan
7-5-12 Minami Ayoama
Seiki Toitsu Tsusho Sangyo
Aka: World Unified Trade and
Industry World Unification
Shimomura Chemical Company
Aum’s Computer Support [error] enter,
Minami Aoyama Center
7-5-22, Minami Aoyama
Cafeteria Unmei No Toki
Umakarou Yausukarou Tei, Ekoda
1-52-1 Kotake-cho Merima-ku, Tokyo
Umakarou Yasukarou Tei,
4-25-7 Honcho, Kichijoji Musashino City, Tokyo
Umakarou Yasukarou Tei,
Kinshicho Waise Building 1-11-4 Taihei
Umakarou Yasukarou Tei, Marutacho, Kyoto
10-5 Jurakumawari Higashi-cho
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City
Clarity Investments PTY, LTD, C/o Murchia and Associates, Barristers and Solicitors, 250 St. Georges Terra Perth, Australia
Mahaposya Australia PTY, C/o Murchia and Associates, Barristers and Solicitors, 250 St. Georges Terrace Perth, Australia
Dai Hanei (Great Prosperity), Maha Posya, Inc, Taipei
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS:
THE AUM SHINRIKYO “DOOMSDAY CULT”
1984 Asahara forms the Aum Shinsen-no kai Company, a book publisher and yoga training center.
1987 The name of the organization is changed to Aum Shinrikyo.
1987 Aum USA Company Limited is incorporated in New York City.
August 1989 Aum Shinrikyo is recognized as a religious corporation by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
February 1990 25 Aum members, including Asahara, run for the Lower House but none are elected.
1991 Aum Shinrikyo begins religious activities in Moscow.
October 1992 Aum “medical mission” sent to Zaire to obtain a sample of the deadly Ebola virus.
June 1992 The Russian Ministry of Justice registers Aum Shinrikyo as an official religious organization.
June 1993 The sect purchased a 500,000 acre sheep ranch in Western Australia.
June 1993 Noxious fumes from a budding believed to be affiliated with the sect cause I 00 people to complain in the Koto Ward of Tokyo.
September, 1993 Asahara and up to 26 other sect members visit the ranch in Australia.
April 1994 Aum members visit Australia to investigate the possibility of extracting uranium.
June 1994 The sect purchased an Ml- 17 helicopter from Russia.
June 27, 1994 7 die and over 500 are injured when the sect releases sarin gas in Matsumoto.
July 1994 The sheep ranch in Australia is sold at a loss.
July 1994 Residents repeatedly complain of peculiar odors from the sects Kamikuishiki complex.
Sept. 1, 1994 231 people in seven towns in western Japan (Nara prefecture) suffer rash and eye irritations from unknown fumes.
Dec. 12, 1994 Aum Home Affairs Ministry head Tomomitsu Niimi attacks a man with VX nerve gas. The man dies ten days later.
January 1995 Niimi attacks Hiruki Nagaoka, the leader of the Association of the Victims of Aum Shinrikyo, with VX gas but he survives.
March 5, 1995 11 people hospitalized from strange fumes in the Keihin Kyuko train line in Yokohama.
March 15, 1995 Three attache cases containing liquid, fans, vents, and batteries are discovered in the Kasun-dgaseki subway station in Tokyo.
March 20, 1995 12 die and 5,500 are injured from sarin gas released in five trains of the Tokyo subway system.
March 30, 1995 The director of the National Police Agency is shot.
April 1995 A Russian court bans all Aum Shinrikyo activities.
April 4, 1995 Odors are noticed from a suspected Aum hideout in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.
April 8, 1995 Ikuo Hayashi, the head of the Treatment Ministry is arrested.
April 11, 1995 20 people complain of sore throats and a foul odor on the Keihin Kyuko line in Yokohama.
April 12, 1995 Tomomitsu Niimi, head of the Home Affairs Ministry is arrested.
April 19, 1995 500 people are hospitalized due to mysterious fumes in the Yokohama railway system.
April 19, 1995 Kiyohide Hayakawa, the Aum Construction Minister, is arrested.
April 21, 1995 27 people are overcome by fumes in a store near the Yokohama rail station.
April 23, 1995 Hideo Murai, the Aum Shinrikyo Science and Technology Minister, is stabbed to death in front of Aum headquarters.
April 26, 1995 Seiichi Endo, the head of the Health and Welfare Ministry and Masami Tsuchiya, the head of the Chemical Division of the Science and Technology Ministry, are arrested.
May 3, 1995 Yoshinobu Aoyama, the sect’s lawyer is arrested.
May 5, 1995 Two bags of poison gas are found in the men’s restroom in the Shinjuku subway station in Tokyo.
May 3, 1995 Traces of Sarin are found in samples, taken in March, from 24 dead sheep on the ranch previously used by the sect in Western Australia.
May 15, 1995 Yoshihiro Inoue, the Aum Intelligence Agency head is arrested. Shoko Asahara, Aum leader, is arrested.
May 16, 1995 A parcel bomb explodes in the offices of Tokyo’s Governor, wounding an aide.
June 26, 1995 Asahara’s wife, Tomoko Matsumoto, is arrested.
July 4, 1995 Poison gas is found in the women’s restroom on the Hibiya line, Kayaba-Cho subway station and in the men’s restroom of the Japanese Railway Shinjuku station in Tokyo.
October 6, 1995 Tokyo District Court holds hearings on the disbandment of Aum Shinrikyo.
October 7, 1995 Fumihiro Joyu, the sect’s spokesman is arrested.
October 26, 1995 Asahara’s trial continued to a date uncertain.
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