Doomsday Cults Part : Aum Shinrikyo | 25
If someone asked you what was. Would you be able to explain it? It's okay if you can't S- I. Sure couldn't in fact. I had no idea would multiple sclerosis was until my doctor said I had it. I'm Andrea done. I'm your host new podcast called this ms I invite you to join me as I. Share Inspiring Stories of amazing people, young and old who fight ms every single day and never let it define them not for one minute. This is MS is available on spotify apple podcasts or wherever you find your new favorite podcasts. Hey everyone. It's Kathy before today's episode. I want to let you know that we do plan to keep making history of the ninety s through this unprecedented crisis that we're all experiencing to be honest. It feels a little weird to be talking about anything else right now, but if you're like me, I figure, you probably need some Kovic free content every once in a while to give your brain a little bit of arrest, but I wanted to let you know that just because I'm talking about crazy nineties, true crime or pop culture. It doesn't mean I'm not thinking about all of you and what you're going through right now. In Two thousand twenty. Stay well and stay home. Okay onto the show. Actually should go was a thirty one year old seamstress turned cashier and she was on her way to an employee training seminar. She boarded the subway car at Castle Miyazaki Station, a major transfer point on the underground line which would take her to her final destination in west Tokyo. But once she was on the train. She immediately collapsed into a vegetative state. I'm Catholic. Can Zora and on this episode of history of the nineties we continue our look at the rise of Doomsday cults at the end of the twentieth century. Today, the story of a group in Japan that had a dangerous belief in the impending apocalypse. On March twentieth, Nineteen ninety-five five men boarded separate subway trains headed for downtown Tokyo. It was the height of the morning rush-hour. Nine million commuters were making their way to work. These men, all highly educated professionals were about to carry out a deadly attack. Each carried at least two packages wrapped in newspaper and along umbrella with a sharpened tip. At exactly the same time they placed their packages on the floor and punctured them with their umbrellas than they ran off. Within minutes commuters began gasping for air and collapsing as the deadly sarin gas contained inside the packages began to seep out and permeate the air. The men that were responsible for this Sarah attack were members of Shinrikyo. The group was founded in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, four in Tokyo Japan by Shoko Asahara. His real name was choosy. Oh, that's a moto. And he was born partially blind. The Sixth of seven children whose parents were poor shopkeepers. After failing to get into medical school. Asahara studied pharmacology an acupuncture. He eventually opened his own pharmacy specializing in Chinese medicine. But in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, two, he was arrested for selling fake remedies, and after being convicted of fraud, his pharmacy went bankrupt. Around this time Asahara joined a small new religious movement called Aygun Shoe, which was a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism. By the mid eighties, he opened his own one room yoga training school, which focused on using yoga and herbal medicines for healing. He drew people to the school by handing out pamphlets and preaching on street corners. In one, thousand, nine, hundred nine, the government granted his school legal status as a certified religious organization, which he called own Shimrikyo or Supreme Truth. Like the religious group Asahara had previously belonged to own based its doctrines on a combination of ancient Buddhist and Hindu beliefs along with his own apocalyptic prophecies. Soon. Asahara began calling himself the ultimate savior, and he claimed he had supernatural powers like ESP and the ability to Leviticus. He preached that he had been selected by the Hindu gods Shiva to create a Utopian society. At its height in the early nineties, the group reportedly had branches in six countries, including Japan Russia and the US with as many as forty thousand followers. Nearly, all of the members in Japan were in their early to mid twenties, and many had attended the country's top universities. Professor Paul Medford is director of the Japan program at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology. He says many of the members had become disillusioned with the pressure of Japanese society to succeed. The members of this group people who had been people gone to elite universities, and somehow had fallen out of the narrow kind of tracks that leads to promotion into a prestige a you know a leak, government, ministries or corporations and kind of falling outside of that for one reason or another, they became alienated and. This religion at and abroad their grade skills and knowledge and my brain power with. Many of the people who joined them were sometimes called. Young. People who were shut INS who spent most of their free time absorbed in computers and comics. They were from generation that grew up watching. And many had graduated to Gacaca, which are book length comics drawn with realistic pictures which are often ultraviolet and depict rape murder and a retrograde future. Those who joined the group were required to sever all contact with their families and to donate all of their assets to the group. With the help of these young scientists and engineers Asahara built a network of warehouses, chemical, facilities and computer firms, and by Nineteen ninety-two omb had amassed more than a billion dollars. Asahara organized the cult like a government. It had about twenty ministries. The Ministry of Science ran the chemical lab. The Ministry of food provided two meals a day to followers, which was seldom more than a bowl of instant noodles, three hard biscuits or a bowl of boiled veggies, actually conditions for most members were pretty bleak. Former cult member say new disciples given and. Cried to sleep and. Drink two and a half gallon hot water each day until they throw up her junior system. Members lived in small cell like rooms and were forced to take part in rituals, which included doing rapid breathing exercises and meditating with the help of a monotonous drone of devices tape to their heads. Some trainees practise the disciplines of staying underwater or enclosed airless spaces for prolonged periods. Anyone, who tried to leave was severely punished with electric shocks. As the cult grew the families of members raised the alarm and complaints of kidnapping, brainwashing and abuse within Ohm rikio became more common. But no one could have predicted what the group would soon be capable of. Setsumi Sakamoto was a thirty three year old Japanese lawyer known for his work against cults. He had successfully led a class action suit against the Unification Church on behalf of relatives of its members, and he was also working on a lawsuit against option rikio. Sakamoto apparently was hoping to demonstrate that all members similar to members of the Unification Church, which are often known as Moonies, did not join the group voluntarily, but were lured in by deception, and were probably being held against their will by threats and manipulations. On October thirty, first nineteen, eighty-nine Sakamoto was successful in persuading Asahara to submit to a blood test to check for his special power that he claimed was present in his body. The results were normal and there was no sign of anything unusual. If this were made public. A could have been embarrassing or damaging to Asahara, because it was one of the ways that he lured new members in. So at three am on November fourth nineteen, eighty nine several omb Shinrikyo members entered Sakamoto's apartment through an unlocked door. Sakamoto struck on the head with a hammer. His twenty nine year old wife was beaten. Their infant son was injected with potassium chloride. A drug usually used to cause cardiac arrest. While the two adults struggled, they were also injected potassium chloride. Sakamoto's wife died from toxic injection, but Sakamoto did not die as quickly and was strangled. The family's remains were placed in metal drums and hidden in three separate rural areas so that in case the bodies were uncovered. Police might not link the three incidents. Police were unable to resolve the case at the time, although some of Sakamoto's colleagues publicly voiced their suspicions of the group. Their bodies weren't found until after the nineteen ninety five Tokyo subway attack when the perpetrators revealed the locations. The murder and the growing clamour from cult members families caused increased attention from the authorities and feeling the mounting pressure own, began preparing for the end of days by experimenting with a number of deadly chemicals. Luckily, most of their experiments failed. In Nineteen Ninety, the group tried to create botulinum and extremely deadly neuro. Toxic chemical produced by bacteria. Members loaded the fermented chemical sludge into several spray trucks, and then drove past and sprayed to US naval bases, Morita Airport in Tokyo, a Japanese government building and the Imperial Palace. The sludge though hadn't purify properly and the neuro toxin had no effect. In nineteen, ninety-two Asahara led forty own followers desire year in an attempt to acquire ebola samples, but their mission was unsuccessful. Again tried spraying the neuro toxic chemical botulinum from a truck in June nineteen ninety-three. This time the target was the elaborate wedding of Crown Prince Narrow Hito. Who is now? Japan's Emperor. Like the first time, the neuro toxin was not made properly. An had no effect. There were also attempts by the group to spray anthrax, but that attempt also failed, and it resulted in a large number of complaints about bad odors, but no infections. Finally called scientists began to focus on manufacturing Saron. Gas at an isolated sheep farm in Western Australia in the summer of nineteen. ninety-three about twenty five members of home moved to the rural farm where they conducted gruesome tests on cheap and managed to kill twenty nine with their homemade gas, then on the night of June twenty-seventh Nineteen, ninety-four, the cult released clouds of sarin gas in a residential area with the help of a converted refrigerator truck. The attack took place near the homes of several judges in this central Japanese city of Matsumoto. Asahara was being sued by a landowner over a real estate dispute any fear he was going to lose the case so own decided to attack the three judges overseeing the matter. Eight people died and five hundred others were injured including the judges as a result, they were unable to deliver a verdict in the case involving Asahara. The attack Matsumoto also served as a test to see how efficient sarin gas was as a weapon of mass destruction. They use the residents of Matsumoto as their guinea pigs. So you might be wondering. What is Saron Gas? Well Sarah is an extremely toxic colorless, odorless gas that works on the nervous system disrupting all bodily functions. Exposure to the chemical usually means the pupils will shrink to pinpoints the mouth and lungs. We'll fill with saliva and bodily fluid, and the heart will begin to slow. Some victims may experience seizures. Death usually comes very quickly. Sarah has been called the poor man's atom bomb because it can kill justice swiftly, there are similar agents to Saron that have common uses. On for instance is used against agricultural pests around the world. Sarah is a kind of pesticide for human, but it kills by crippling the nervous system making it impossible to agree. There is an antidote for Seren. It's called atropine, a cheap and effective medication available on all crash carts in North American hospitals. Serum Gas was developed in Nineteen thirty eight in Nazi Germany by team of scientists who were looking for a better pesticide that targeted the nervous system of insects when several of the scientists were exposed to the chemical. They became quite ill. The Nazi government heard about this and they told the scientists to figure out a way to weaponize the chemical. As a chemical weapon during World War Two. The first time it was used as a weapon was an attack in Helaba one of the deadliest chemical attacks in history. Approximately five thousand people, mostly women and children were killed, and many others died later of cancer and other illnesses. Researchers believe the contamination past not only into the soil and water, but into the gene pool as well. Since the attack and normal number of children have been born in this region with genetic malformations. Sarah has been used more recently in Syria I in twenty thirteen, when according to the United Nations. A suburb of Damascus was hit by government-backed rockets, containing the deadly nerve agent. The death toll varies, but somewhere around fifteen hundred people died including five hundred children. In two thousand seventeen, the world watched in horror as Saron was unleashed in Syria again, images of dead poison children's spread across the world. About, eighty people, including at least twenty five children were killed. More than three hundred others were injured. But back in Nineteen ninety-four after the successful experiment, Massimo auto own began planning what would become one of the deadliest bioterrorist attacks in history? This is the time line of what unfolded on that Fateful Day in Nineteen, ninety five. The attack began at ten minutes before eight am on March. Twentieth as five men boarded subway trains carefully selected for maximum impact. They blended in with other passengers headed for the centre of Tokyo. By eight fifteen, all five converged on the district of Kasumigaseki, where most of Japan's government offices are located. Each man was carrying two to three packages wrapped in newspaper. Inside were plastic bags of liquid Saron. The men ranged from twenty seven to forty eight years old, and we're all highly educated. Three had physics degrees one a degree in artificial intelligence, and the eldest was a cardiologist who had recently quit his job to join the colts. The plan was for the men to all puncture their seren packages at exactly eight am and quickly escaped the trains. They were each carrying an umbrella with a sharpened tip, and they also carried a syringe with the antidote. Just in case they were exposed to the chemical. But a couple of things didn't go according to plan. The cardiologists had second thoughts and punctured just one package before exiting the train. There was just one small fool in his package, and the seren barely leaked out people on board that train suffered just minor poisoning in the Renault serious injuries. But on board another train, the packages were punctured effectively and sarin gas leaked rapidly into the air within two stops. People started coughing and collapsing. Normally. Saron is odorless that the cult scientists had not purified it properly, so it smelled like burning rubber. When the train stopped, people came pouring out onto the platform, gasping for breath, confusion and panic filled the air. No one had any idea what was going on. Meanwhile Selah engagements was leaking from the train into the station, spreading the poison further. Similar situations took place on the other trains. Soon subway entrances looked like battlefields with poisoned commuters, laying on the ground, convulsing and gasping for air. Some had blood gushing from their nose and mouth. In some cases once the trains were cleared of people, they were sent on down the line with the deadly packages, still onboard unknowingly the sarin gas spread even further. When workers finally found the packages, they had no idea what they were, and they brought them out onto the platform and exposed even more people. In one case, the workers who found packages took them to a small security office while they waited for police to arrive. They too became ill from toxic fumes. After the attack, the five-man rendezvous at a getaway car, and then made their way through morning traffic to a hideout. One of the men had to use his syringe of antidote, but he survived. When news broke about the attack, the scenes on television were horrifying. A disturbing new reality seemed to arrive overnight. Every person in every large city suddenly felt vulnerable, as they saw her stumbling out of trains onto platforms, vomiting with nosebleeds, forming at the mouth and convulsing. No one was sure what the chemical was, or who could be responsible for such terror. Thirteen people died as a result of the attack and nearly five thousand more were injured some with brain damage. Among, the dead were a seventy six year old retiree, a twenty nine year, old man, whose wife was expecting their first child in a month, a subway operator and station manager who died after trying to clean up the poison. Once it was determined that the poison wasn't facs. Erin gas experts were quick to point out that hundreds of thousands of people could have been killed if the poison have been deployed properly. In Tokyo you see the seren liquid was placed in plastic bottles that were wrapped in newspaper. The packages were punctured, and the liquid ran out onto the floor of the subway. To be most effective. Gas Is best delivered via Aerosol, spray. Experts believed. This might be the beginning of a new age. This was the first significant time. Terrorists used a weapon of mass destruction on an urban area. Remember this was long before. Terrorist flew airplanes into the world trade. Center buildings in New York. In a newspaper article two days after the attack terrorism specialist was quoted as saying. We've definitely crossed a threshold. This is the cutting edge of high tech terrorism for the year two thousand and beyond. It's the nightmare scenario that people have quietly talked about for years coming true. And many pointed out that society was extremely vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. Terrorists could easily poison a city's water supply or release lethal gases like Sarin into sports stadiums, convention centers theaters. Some predicted. It was just a matter of time before an attack like this occurred in North America. Two days after the attack police focused their investigation on Shinrikyo. More than a thousand police officers backed by a chemical warfare unit raided two dozen locations linked to the colts. The main focus was their rural retreat near a mountain hamlet on the scenic slopes below Mount Fuji. Television footage showed hundreds of police in riot gear, marching down a dusty road toward the cult's ramshackle collection of buildings. For many. It brought back memories of the branch. Davidian raid in Waco Texas that occurred two years earlier. But in this case, no weapons were used, and no one was injured. Police cut through locked doors with power saws. Some officers even carried caged canaries to detect the presence of poison gas, a bygone technique deployed in coal mines. Once inside the main Dojo police were shocked to find about fifty cult members suffering severe malnutrition from fasting. They found one woman locked in a box. Other captives had been drugged. Four year old Shoko Asahara was nowhere to be found. Before the end of the day police, these barrels and barrels of chemicals used to make sarin eleven million dollars in cash and ten kilos of gold. They also found bottles of the antidote to Saron gas masks and chemical protective suits. Over the coming days, police would seize enough chemicals to make enough sarin to kill over four million people. Own denied any role in the attack. They said they were being framed by the government. Person said the chemicals weren't being used to make nerve gas. They were being used to weld and process computer chips. Professor Medford was living in Tokyo at the time of the attack in one, thousand, nine, hundred five about three days after the attacks, somebody came through my apartment buildings, and probably the most other buildings in that area in southern Tokyo and the ultimate region where I lived and put pam pro on recoup homes pamphlet into my mailbox. I, I remember reading that and it talked about the J. CIA or the Japanese CIA and claimed that they had done this to frame on Rico and they were also blaming the US and that's things always as a big conspiracy theory. Initially police didn't publicly link the call to the attack. They said the raids were carried out as part of other ongoing investigations against home. But then five days after the attack, Japanese police opened a murder investigation against the group. Officers raided the cult's main compound again this time armed with a murder warrants. Inside they found a hidden room with highly sophisticated chemical laboratory, capable of producing a large quantity of nerve gas. The secret door to the room was hidden behind a huge Hindu statue. Police also found rooms or underground containers that had been used to confine people who tried to flee the colts. Then to other shocking incidents took place I on March twenty eighth eight days after the attack. Japan's top police official in charge of the investigation was shot four times by master sealant. The chief of the National Police Agency was leaving his condo on the way to work when a gunman wearing a black raincoat and a white surgical mask shot him in the shoulder, stomach and leg, he underwent surgery and survived. The talker had fled by bicycle, and it wasn't until a year later that an own member and former Tokyo police officer confessed to the shooting. Then seven weeks after the attack on the night of April twenty third thirty six year, old Hideo Muir I top scientists was heading into homes Tokyo headquarters. There was a huge crowd of reporters and police standing outside the building as Muir I approached suddenly a man broke through the crowd, and began to stab and slash I've repeatedly. Television networks broke into regular programming across the country to broadcast the attack and footage showed a knife plunging into Mirai side. He underwent surgery at hospital, but died later from blood, loss and internal injuries. The attacker called himself a right wing extremist. He told police he wanted to punish me awry because of the trouble caused by the cult. Professor, Mitford said this kind of attack was not uncommon in Japan and Japan has a history of of that. I Major Socialist leader was stabbed to death in the early sixties. former ambassador Reischauer, the US ambassador. Edwin Marisha was stabbed by a rightist. In in the early sixties, so there's actually kind of a history of that. A former prime minister was to actually a right-wing prime minister after he left office in nineteen sixty, so yeah, the sort of thing is is quite common. Nearly two months after the attack Japanese police finally made their first major arrest in the case. They arrested oems. Intelligence Minister Yoshihiro Enu. He was the suspected field commander in the subway attack, and was taken into custody after police found a notebook, in which she kept a record of timetables and numbers of passengers who use the subway lines were the Sarah nerve gas was released. But still Shoko Asahara remained at large. Authorities reportedly know the whereabouts of Choline Shoko Asahara camera crews got his car without him in on its way out of Tokyo on Saturday the police have it closed because they are afraid of what his followers might do. While grim-faced troops have uncovered a powerful arsenal of chemicals enough to make fifty tons of the nerve gas used in the subway attack. They don't know of cult. Members have additional seren hidden away. Finally on May Fifteenth Nineteen ninety-five Hundreds of police officers stormed owns compound at the foot of Mount Fuji. They arrested forty year old cult leader, Shoko Asahara and fourteen other top followers, and charge them in connection with a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo. Subway system police said they found as a herald sitting in silent meditation in a Hidden Room beneath the third floor of the truth building number six at the cult's massive compound. The room apparently resembled a large coffin with a foam floor. Asahara with long flowing hair and wearing a lavender robe was put in a police van as he had it away along a rural highway. The entire thing was broadcast on Japanese TV networks. Some comparative at the time to the police chase of OJ Simpson that had happened less than a year earlier. There are several theories about why ohm decided to release the poison gas in the Tokyo subway system. Most center around the belief that I wanted to provoke a world war, they believed the US would be blamed for the attack, and this would lead to a full out nuclear war between Japan and America. which would eventually bring about the end of the world? Only own followers would survive, and they would live in a new utopian world. It took many years, but eventually one hundred eighty nine cult members were brought to trial in connection with the subway attack. All but one were convicted. Thirteen were sentenced to death, including own leader Socal Asahara and four of the attackers. The fifth attacker received a life sentence in exchange for his cooperation with the police investigation after his arrest. In July, twenty eighteen twenty three years after the attack with all appeals exhausted so Asahara and six other own leaders, including the group's lead scientists, and the lead chemist were executed by hanging. Several others including the four attackers remain on death row. Despite the deadly legacy of Omission Rikio, the group continues to exist, but in a new way. Home splintered into two groups after the attack Alaw and Noah also known as the circle of light. The government disband the groups instead. They put them under surveillance. Professor Mitford explains that Japan has a very complicated history with new religions. So during world, war two or even before the nineteen thirties, wind Japan really turned militarist and kind of state Shinto became almost the official religion. Many new religions were suppressed. Including Soka Gakkai. which is this New Buddhist? Relatively new Buddhist sect. Its leaders were imprisoned. At least one of their leaders died in prison during World War Two and because of that experience, Soka Gakkai has been very suspicious of the state. Very much opposed to any kind of state, authorities or law that would. Give the state, the ability to suppress or control religions. Surveillance of the to religious sects means the authorities can conduct onsite inspections and other checks. It also means the groups must report the number of believers they have. But in two thousand eighteen, the Japanese government lifted surveillance on Hickory. Noah after they argued in a lawsuit that they have rejected oems beliefs. They currently have about one hundred and fifty members. Ala which remains under official scrutiny, still follows Asahara's teachings, and in fact has deepened its ties to owns doctrines according to officials, it has fifteen hundred members and growing. Thanks for listening to this episode on the Mysterious Doomsday cult own Shinrikyo. COMING UP WE'LL BE LOOKING AT heaven's Gate another doomsday cult. This one sat in California. We'll take a look back at their strange story, which involves UFO's comets, and of course, matching tracksuits and Nike running shoes. Be sure to check out. The show notes for links to my guest on this episode Professor Paul Mitford. He's the director of the Japan program at the Norwegian University of Science and technology. Thanks to everyone who's been sending me suggestions for show ideas. We've been getting a lot of really great ones. Everything from boy bands to stand up comedy to nineties cartoons. Some really good stuff, so if you've got an idea, please send it my way. I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me through twitter at nineteen. Ninety history I'm also on instagram and facebook and you can email me directly. At Ninety S at curious cast dot CA. That's nine s ACURAS CAST DOT CA. If you haven't already please make sure to subscribe to our show, so you never miss an episode. And while you're there, I'd really appreciate if you could rate and review us, it will help spread the word and get more people to find the show. We're available for free at apple podcasts. spotify Google podcasts and everywhere else get your streaming audio. You can always listen at curious cast dot CA. And if you're new to the show, make sure you go back and check out some of our older episodes. The show was hosted and Co written by me Kathy Can Zora and deal of Alaska's our producer, sound, design and final production is by Rob Johnston. See you next time for more history of the nineties.