Aum still poses threat

Asahi Shimbun/November 26, 2005

The Public Security Intelligence Agency on Friday requested three more years of surveillance on Aum Shinrikyo, saying the cultists have returned to a mind-set that justifies mass murder and other attacks against society.

The request was filed with the Public Security Examination Commission, which is expected to make a decision in January. The current three-year surveillance period will expire Jan. 31.

The agency said the extension--the second one requested--is needed because Aum Shinrikyo still poses a threat to society. The group has again acknowledged its founder, Chizuo Matsumoto, as the "absolute presence," agency officials said.

Matsumoto, the bearded guru also known as Shoko Asahara, has been sentenced to death for masterminding the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, which killed 12 and sickened thousands, and other crimes.

The agency also wants Aum Shinrikyo to be required to report on its income and expenditures.

Surveillance of the cult started in 2000 under a 1999 law to control an organization that committed mass murder.

The law requires groups under surveillance to provide information, including members' names and the locations of its facilities, to the agency. Agency inspectors can inspect those facilities.

Aum Shinrikyo has been the only organization to be monitored under this law.

Agency officials said surveillance of the cult should continue, based on inspections and interviews.

According to the agency, Aum Shinrikyo, which now goes by the name of Aleph, had taken action to reduce Matsumoto's influence, including removing his pictures from facilities under the management of Fumihiro Joyu, until autumn 2003.

But internal conflicts have created a collective leadership comprising several senior members, the agency said.

At seminars for cult members, the group plays recordings of mantras chanted by Matsumoto, and keeps DVDs and videotapes of lectures given by Matsumoto, the agency said.

In addition, senior members refer to Matsumoto's son as "heir to the throne."

"We initiated (the attacks) in the hopes of establishing a wonderful country," agency officials quoted cultists as saying.

Aum boasts a membership of about 2,000 in Japan and Russia.

Most of the members are believed to have joined the cult before it launched its series of attacks in the mid-1990s.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.