The Cult of Aum Shinrikyo: Ban, Not Ban?
On March 20, 1995, the most famous terrorist attack in the history of Japan took place. Members of a religion cult called Aum Shinrikyo (オウム真理教) released sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system. Sarin is a nerve gas invetend by German scientists in the 1930s as part of Adolf Hitler’s preparations for WWII. During the 1980s it was used to lethal effect by Iraq, both in the war against Iran and against the Kurds. Twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide gas, a drop of sarin the size of a pinhead is sufficient to kill a person. During the Tokyo Gas Attack, twelve persons were killed and nearly 5,500 passengers were injured.
The Aum group was founded in 1987 by Shoko Asahara, a legally blind former yoga teacher. He combined anger at his own marginal background with a potent mix of self-styled “Eastern religious ideas” and anti-Western rage. The group expanded rapidly through the early 1990s, claiming 50,000 members by 1995. The Aum terrorists, under the spell of their charismatic leader, were seeking to hasten the day of an expected apocalypse with his act. After the 1995 terrorist attack, Aum Shirikyo continued to operate despite heavy government surveillance. It re-grouped under the new name “Aleph” in 2000, and a second spinoff group, “The Circle of Light,” was formed in 2007. As of 2011, the Aum cult had about 1,500 members, and it was reportedly active in trying to recruit new members via social media and converting on college campuses.
|Team A (ban)||Team B (not ban)|
|Matthew Ferguson, Wailea Visiko-Knox, Jacqueline Heinzelmann||Jenny Yau, Preston Hollopeter, Megan Runkle|