Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR

Weird Science

Aums chief scientists, Hideo Murai and Seiichi Endo, succeeded in setting up a chemical laboratory second to none. After weeks of research into exotic weaponry, they convinced Asahara that chemical warfare was the ideal form of destruction. While nuclear devices were the preferred terrorist "horror" weapon, they were expensive and hard to obtain. Chemical weapons, one the other hand, could be created in Aums own specially-constructed "bio-labs."

After weeks of tests and trial runs, they succeeded in creating the most virulent form of toxin known to man, Clostridium botulinum, the basis of botulism. Normally exposed to humans by way of food poisoning, it is arguably the most poisonous substance in the natural world, being 10,000 times more potent than Cobra venom and 16 million times stronger than strychnine. It is an efficient killer with one millionth of a gram considered a lethal dose.

They first tested the lethal substance on rats by mixing it in their food. Nothing happened. Finally in frustration, Endo ordered that the rats be injected with the toxin but again it failed. Eventually Endos team found that the toxin had become neutralized when exposed to the air. Asahara was disappointed, he was anxious to try out his new weapon. He directed Endo to keep trying. The facilities were improved, however, the scientists' method of protecting themselves left a lot to be desired. Even though they had the latest "bio-suits" to wear when handling toxic substances, they had very little idea of safe decontamination procedures.

Endos next effort seemed to be working. They planned to equip a truck with a special spraying device to spread the toxin in central Tokyo, particularly the area surrounding the Diet (Japanese parliament). Asahara was about to teach the government a lesson. While Asahara waited with over a thousand followers on the distant island of Okinawa, the spraying team went to work. The idea was to kill off Japans seat of government in one fell swoop, leaving the country in disarray and making way for a new leader to emerge. That leader, of course, being Shoko Asahara.

Fortunately, even though the sprays worked, the toxin didnt. Additional research was begun to find a new substance. While the attack was a dismal failure, the island retreat organized by Asahara, netted the cult an additional two million dollars in revenue. Asahara was jubilant, even though Aum was being scrutinized on a regular basis, it continued to thrive.

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