Japan raids facilities of 1995 sarin attack cult

The Japanese Public Security Intelligence Agency recently began inspections of over 25 facilities run by the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult.

AUM members were responsible for the fatal 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, as well as a number of other crimes linked to the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, according to JapanTimes.co.jp.

The PSIA utilized at least 300 of its agents from 13 different prefectures for the series of raids, which targeted 20 facilities run by the mainstream AUM group that has since been renamed Aleph, and six others run by a splinter group that calls itself Hikari no Wa, or the Circle of Rainbow Light.

According to the agency, Aleph bought its largest facility in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward in March 2010 and is using the internet and yoga classes to attract more young followers.

The agency said that Shoko Asahara, the group’s founder who is currently held on death row, is still capable of influencing the cult, JapanTimes.co.jp reports. The raids, according to the PSIA, are necessary to formulate an understanding of how the two groups continue to function.

The AUM case demonstrated to authorities how terrorist organizations can be drawn to using weapons of mass destruction. It also demonstrates how ineffective law enforcement can be in such cases when limited legal structures are in place. Though the Japanese police knew that AUM was producing chemical weapons, they were unable to prosecute because no Japanese laws forbid the production of poison gas.