AUM trapped in power struggle


Mainichi Shimbun, April 30, 2000

The eldest daughter of AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara appears to be locked in a power struggle with the doomsday cult's leaders, according to police sources.

Metropolitan Police Department officials suspect that the eldest daughter, 21, whose name is being withheld, wanted to unite those faithful to her in the cult to form an opposition group.

They harbored the suspicion after analyzing e-mails she wrote in February to a member of AUM, which has changed its name to Aleph in a bid to overcome its infamous reputation.

One of the e-mails reads, "I want you to summon those who will choose me to the food-making division in Gifu (Prefecture)."

Other e-mails suggest that she is critical of the way AUM's top brass is running the cult. "I will never give in to things I don't believe in," one of them says.

Police confiscated a laptop computer containing the e-mails from a car after a female AUM member caused an accident when driving the vehicle in Tokyo's Chuo-ku on April 22. The eldest daughter was arrested for illegal possession of a knife.

Police officials said that a memo by the former member found in the car further revealed that Asahara's children were involved in internal strife in the cult.

The memo concerns the abduction of the guru's eldest son by cult members from an Asahi, Ibaraki Prefecture, facility in January. AUM members, including Asahara's second and third daughters, were arrested after they broke into the facility in Asahi and kidnapped the 7-year-old eldest son.

After the abduction, high-ranking AUM members allegedly asked the eldest daughter to write a note explaining that the abduction was only the result of a quarrel between siblings.

The cult had planned to submit the note to police, the officials said. But the eldest daughter, according to the memo found in the car, refused to comply with the request. "She said she didn't want to write a fictitious report," it says.

One of the daughter's e-mails supports the note theory as it criticized the cult's request to write the note, saying that it was part of a plot against her and her supporters.

The eldest daughter had reportedly lived with the abducted son in the Asahi facility to protect and take care of the boy.


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