Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR

Russian Connection

While the scientists worked to perfect their chemical weapons, Asahara embarked on the biggest evolution of Aum since its conception.

Asahara & wife Tomoko in Moscow
Asahara & wife Tomoko in Moscow
Aum arrived in Moscow in March 1992, amidst great fanfare. Asahara and his followers quickly established a following in the heart of the Soviet Empire. Hundreds of people flocked to hear Asaharas teachings and ravings regarding the end of the world. After several months of recruiting, supported by an extensive media campaign, Aum took Russia by storm. Russian citizens from all social levels, including government officials, joined the cult. Asahara managed to form an alliance with many top officials, none more important than Oleg Ivanovich Lobov, chairman of the Russian security council.

Aum made generous donations of computers, medical supplies and $14 million in cash. The Russian leaders were impressed and opened their doors to the cult. The largest of their venues were made available for Aums rallies. A regular weekly television program extolling the virtues of Aum followed. By the time Asahara and his entourage had returned to Japan, thousands of Russians had joined the sect swelling, Aums coffers to record levels.

Russian followers
Russian followers
Apart from the success of recruiting, Asaharas pilgrimage to Russia yielded a much greater prize. Through his new political contacts, Asahara now had access to the Russian scientific community and its plethora of post-Soviet weaponry.

To oversee the procurement of weapons of mass destruction from the Soviets, Asahara appointed one of his trusted lieutenants, Kiyohide Hayakawa, to stay in Russia. His task was to gather as much information as he could  about chemical weapons and other devices, including nuclear warheads. Hayakawa, an engineer by profession, made many contacts with leading scientists, physicists and engineers who possessed the knowledge that Aum sought. As well as the more "official" contacts he made, Hayakawa was also instrumental in setting up "a line of supply" with several black market operations that dealt in military hardware.

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