Japan Cult Used Software to Tap Police--Media


Reuters, March 10, 2000

TOKYO (Reuters) - The doomsday cult blamed for the deadly 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system wrote software for the police that provided the sect with classified data on police patrol cars, Japanese media reported on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Police Department discovered that the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) sect wrote software to track about 150 police vehicles, including unmarked cars, about a month before the system was to be completed in early 1998, they said.

The cult was briefly able to receive classified tracking data on 115 vehicles through the contract, reports said. The police, one of numerous key government agencies that bought software systems from the cult, worked to purge the software after the link to the cult was discovered, they said.

It also changed the license plates on vehicles as well as getting rid of other cars in order to prevent the cult from tracking the vehicles, according to reports.

A police spokesman declined to comment on the reports.

The cult's software company, Vainqueur Ltd, which provided computer systems for the metropolitan police, worked as a subcontractor to provide software to 50 institutions and organizations, according to local media reports. A major private university, local governments and leading Japanese news agency Kyodo News were among the companies and organizations that bought software designed by the company, reports said.

Aum Shinri Kyo's use of related companies and its role as a subcontractor made it almost impossible for ministries and organizations to be aware that they were buying computer systems from the cult, computer experts said. In the years following the subway nerve gas attack, the cult, now called ``Aleph,'' has designed software for various government agencies and ministries. It developed a software system for Japan's Defense Agency that would manage classified communications.

The government recently ordered ministries to stop using software developed by companies associated with the cult.

Public anxiety over the cult still remains high and fears will be rekindled later this month on the fifth anniversary of the gas attack on Tokyo's subway system, which killed 12 people and injured thousands, is marked on March 20.


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