Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR

Lethal Empire

"The time has come," Asahara told the assembled group. Seated before him in his inner chamber were Murai, Hayakawa, Endo and Tsuchiya, the key people in his plan to militarize Aum. The purpose of the meeting was to focus their efforts to achieve their primary objective, the beginning of Armageddon.

A secret plan was hatched to arm themselves for the impending battle. Many alternatives were discussed regarding weapons. Biological weapons were high on the agenda, so too were nuclear devices, particle beams and lasers. Conventional weapons were also suggested. Asaharas decision ended all speculation he approved plans to obtain or produce all of them.

Aum's sarin gas facility at Kamikuishiki
Aum's sarin gas facility at Kamikuishiki

Murai was given the task of overseeing production of chemical weapons and developing, nuclear, laser and microwave technology. Tsuchiya was given control of a new facility which was to produce a nerve gas that he had previously suggested to Asahara, a Nazi invention called sarin. Hayakawa, as well as being responsible for building the new plants and infrastructure, was given the job of procuring the more conventional weapons: firearms, explosives, tanks and aircraft.

All Aum members were to receive military training. Former soldiers who had joined the sect earlier were appointed as instructors. A special commando unit, specializing in security and intelligence, was selected from the best of the recruits. To aid in the expansion and retooling, Aum purchased an ailing ironworks and proceeded to strip the company of millions of dollars worth of machine tools. The machines were intended to be used in Aums biggest project. A new building was constructed near the Mt. Fuji compound. It had three stories, one at ground level, two more underground, with an area totaling 47,000 square feet. It was called "Clear Stream Temple," and was fitted out as a manufacturing facility for conventional weapons.

The factory, known by cult members as " The Supreme Science Institute" became operational in early 1993. The main factory manufactured parts for the Russian-designed AK-74, the upgraded design of the AK-47, which had become the weapon of choice for many guerilla armies and international terrorist organizations. Asahara wanted enough rifles and ammunition produced to arm every member of the cult, in excess of a thousand individual weapons, by 1995.

At the same time Aums scientists were equipping their labs with sufficient equipment and raw materials to produce large quantities of deadly nerve gas and various biological toxins. As Aum continued to expand, a complicated structure of  companies was set up to funnel some of the funds into legitimate enterprises to further strengthen Asaharas burgeoning empire. Through one company, Mahaposya, Aum expanded into nearly every business necessary to sustain daily life. From farming to manufacturing, retailing to the brokerage business, the company did it all.

To cater to Japans growing need for technology and information, the company opened a chain of budget computer stores across the country. Selling mainly American-made computer hardware, the store rapidly expanded with over 300 stores operating by the end of 1993.

Financially, Aum could do no wrong. As real estate prices plummeted, Aum purchased tracts of land, houses and commercial and industrial sites. Recruiting continued unabated with Asahara spending $120,000 on a single campaign. One estimate put Aums wealth in excess of $150 million, not including the $23 million earned annually by Mahaposya and the $10 million in yearly "donations" from members of the sect. By the end of 1995, Aums financial officials would be boasting of net assets totaling in excess of a billion dollars.

As well as providing a method of increasing revenues, Aums companies served the dual purpose of becoming a conduit for the message of Aum. Every business succeeded in reaching an incredible range of "potential recruits" from small children in company-run child-minding centers to the aged. Students were the prime target as they had been proven as a ready source of bright, committed devotees.

Even though Asahara preached of a life of simple living and devotion to religious pursuits, it didnt prevent him from procuring and enjoying the finer things of life. He lived a decadent lifestyle surrounded by such luxuries as a fleet of cars, including several Mercedes, a Rolls Royce and two luxury yachts, while sect members worked long hours, rewarded with only meager meals and a cramped and, often dirty, living environment.

Categories
Advertisement