AUM still pursuing sarin studies


Mainichi Shimbun, Friday, May 26, 2000

Members of the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult have continued to pursue their interest in making lethal sarin gas, police said Thursday.

Cult members have admitted to releasing the toxic gas on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, but documents seized recently from a follower close to AUM guru Shoko Asahara's daughter indicate the doomsday group continues to maintain its fetish for the lethal substance. AUM has pledged to mend its evil ways, but it appears to have even scoured overseas sources to find out how to make the toxic gas.

"I can make sarin really easily. I worked in a sarin factory before the subway attack," a friend of the follower quoted her as having said recently. AUM officials denied any wrong- doing. They say the follower had the notebooks to give to the lawyer of an AUM member standing trial for the subway gassing.

Public safety officials pledged to treat the documents seriously, saying that they serve as proof of the need to eradicate the doomsday cult.

They will also determine whether cult bigwigs were behind the move to make the death gas, or if it was merely an idea pursued by a few rebels. Police said that two notebooks seized from the cult were dotted with references to the creation of sarin.

Police said the information outlined in the documents was of a technical nature and not the type of knowledge that could be easily found on the streets.

They also said the doomsday cult member who had been accompanying Asahara's daughter was knowledgeable in the sarin creation process and had written cautionary notes in the margins of the notebooks. The notebooks seemed to have been filled about one to two years ago.

The follower at the center of the storm left an AUM facility with Asahara's daughter in January, but the pair went their separate ways two months later. On April 22, a car in which Asahara's daughter was riding was searched by police, leading to the discovery of the notebooks.


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