Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR

Pursuit of Power

Obviously bolstered by his ability to sidestep the law, Asahara began a bizarre campaign to run for the upcoming national parliamentary elections. His strategy was to have a select group of followers contest 25 seats in the Lower House.

Aum members in masks campaigning for political representation
Aum members in masks campaigning for political representation

Their campaigning was obscure. They preached of impending doom while at the same time promising, freedom, equality and benevolence for everyone. Their campaign budget ran into millions of dollars. At one stage, hundreds of followers marched in the streets wearing hideous papier-mâché masks bearing a distorted caricature of Asahara.

Like everything else that Aum did, its approach to campaigning was radical and unethical, with supporters and candidates breaking every electoral rule. Opposition party posters were torn down, phones were tapped and voters were intimidated.

Regardless of their high budget and extreme electioneering strategies, Aums bid for political recognition failed miserably when all 25 candidates, including Asahara, were defeated. The election result wasnt the only bad news for the cult. Throughout Japan, Aum was coming under intense scrutiny. Asahara spoke of "extreme measures being required to educate the world about the power of Aum."

He talked of raising an army to fight anyone who opposed his teachings. The election defeat seemed to act as a catalyst to his maniacal plans as he urged his scientists to create hi-tech weapons for the coming war. At the beginning of 1990, Asaharas agenda could be summed up in one word -- revenge.

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