Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Maureen Briggs
Last updated: June 14, 2019
AbstractThe purpose of this research is to discuss how a terrorist organization is likely to conduct an attack on the United States (U.S.). It provides detailed background information on the inner workings of foreign terrorist organization Aum Shinrikyo (Aum).
By providing this information, the reader will have a better understanding of how terrorist organizations are created and how their ideologies, goals, and objectives are formed and disseminated to people all over the world. This paper also discusses how support through funding and leadership can give terrorist organizations the resources needed to acquire and develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). An overview of targeted locations, populations, and significant dates that appeal to terrorists will be included as well as proper procedures that can be implemented to prevent possible attacks. This will allow for a more knowledgeable look at the operations of terrorist groups and ways to prevent and respond to attacks.Aum Shinrikyo: New Name, Same Agenda Terrorist organizations have a way of sneaking past defenses and destroying one’s sense of security through well thought out plan of attacks.
Regardless of where these terrorist groups are located their presence can be felt from thousands of miles away. The attack of Aum Shinrikyo caught many by surprise by the organization’s cruelty and ease in which they operated. Those responsible for the notorious attacks in Japan have since been apprehended and the cult’s name was changed to Aleph in hopes of changing their image. Regardless of the name change, Aleph still follows the same teachings and will continue to be a threat to the U.S.
Literature Review In Gardner’s (2008) book, chapter nine discusses how manga and anime were used as propaganda tools for the Aum Shinrikyo. Research throughout Japanese history has shown that manga and anime have been used as destructive tools for terrorist groups and politicians. This book also discusses various theories and explanations that attribute Japanese culture, religion, and society to the rise of Aum’s power. (Gardner, 2008, p.
200) The use of these tools were exploited by Aum to spread their agenda throughout the world and increase their ranks. It also showed that they would not bend to the Japanese government. Nehorayoff’s et al., article provides a detailed assessment of Aum’s development of nuclear and biological weapons. This assessment is the result of several case studies being conducted and the information gathered from those studies are reflected in the information given. In this research, it touches on the followers within the cult and their thought processes when dealing with objectives that they were uncomfortable with. Olson (1999) takes a look at the inner workings of Aum and how their day to day operations work.
This article discusses the threat this cult produced, many of which went unnoticed by the world until it was too late. It also hints at Aum’s capabilities to still be a threat against the U.S.
regardless of their physical inactivity. In the journal article by Reader (2012), it discusses the influences behind Aum, religion playing a big factor. It also reviews the attack in Tokyo and the interviews conducted by the leaders that were apprehended and imprisoned after the attack. News of these attacks and failed attempts are what kickstarted the need for stronger U.S. counterterrorism measures. Several factors were in play with the failed attempts of Aum leaders infiltrating political seats within the Japanese government and the failed attempts with biological weapons.
Rosenau’s (2010) article provides an in-depth look into the case review of the Aum terrorist group and the factors that contributed to its downfall. It also provides an assessment of the difficult nature in which developing biological weapons are to even the most resource-capable organization. In Simmons’ (2006) article, it outlines details from the Aum cult from its beginning to its end. The research that this article has conducted provided information on where Aum set up its operations and how they were able to obtain the resources that they had.
Aum was not just a Japanese cult, its inclusion of everyone spoke volumes about how important their religion and teachings were to all that opposed the U.S.Discussion The phrase “the blind leading the blind” has taken on a whole new meaning. Aum Shinrikyo was a cult founded by yoga instructor Chizuo Matsumoto, aka Asahara Shoko (The Holy), a partially blind man. Aum is most famous for their attack on the Japanese Tokyo subway system in 1995, in which they used chemical weapons.
Sarin gas was launched on several subways killing 15 people and injuring over 5,500. A chemical weapon attack of this magnitude put the world on high alert of the possibilities that terrorist organizations can not only obtain the means to create these weapons but deploy them as well. It would later be uncovered that this was not Aum’s first attempt at terrorism, it was just the first successful attempt. (Simmons, 2006, p.
37-38)Matsumoto created his own religion through his studies of Hindu, Buddhism, Taoist, and Christianity in 1984. The group’s ideology focused on the past devastation of atomic bombs to Japan and a prophecy that a coming transformation to society through the use of nuclear weapons would occur. The only survivors of this war were to be those who supported Aum.
(Nehorayoff, Ash, & Smith, 2016, p. 36) His cult did not gain followers until it was recognized as a religion by Japan and Matsumoto was able to spread his teachings to a more susceptible audience. Japan’s Religious Corporations Law allowed Aum certain privileges such as providing the group with private shelters and the freedom to pursue activities without interference. This increased their numbers exponentially worldwide.
(Simmons, 2006, p. 38)Aum’s beliefs led to the end state goal that it was their responsibility to save the world from destruction when Japan and America fight in its next nuclear war. In order to complete this mission, members of Aum would need to infiltrate the Japanese political arena and gain positions of power so that they can influence more people to join their ranks.
Their attempts of power through political means never came to fruition and it would be this defeat that changed the agenda of Aum. (Simmons, 2006, p. 39) The war between Japan and America would happen and only those who followed Aum would be saved, thus kickstarting their doomsday cult persona. Those who posed a threat to the terrorist group would be dealt with and prepare for the war would commence. Matsumoto put blame on the Japanese government for their failed political win and determined that violence through the use of WMDs was the only way to dispose of the corrupt government. His leadership style was impulsive and he eliminated those who did not conform to his methods or tried to interfere with his agendas. Members who complied with his methods did so to move through the ranks while those who were opposed to some of the methods used, openly objected and left the decision-making process to others so as to free their guilt.
WMDs became his obsession, especially that of sarin gas and Clostridium botulinum (botulin) because of their destructive potential. His ultimate goal was to develop his own nuclear weapons. (Nehorayoff et al., 2016, p. 36-38) Mass media was to blame for Aum’s failure to obtain political power. It was believed that mass media had powers of mind control and manipulation and was being used by evil forces. To overturn those in power, Aum began to use mass media to garner more support for their cause. They produced anime, music, videos, recordings, and Mahayana was a magazine that they created in 1987, that provided monthly information on their teachings.
Matsumoto also started a weekly radio broadcast from Russia in the hopes that these efforts to use propaganda would successfully convert people from all over the world to their religion and alter the public’s opinion that had been tarnished by the government. (Gardner, 2008, p. 204)Aum membership had gone worldwide, with numbers estimated at 40,000. Their stance on attacking the U.S. provided them with more supporters who donated money and resources to their cause. The cult also had money coming in through religious donations, book sales, restaurants, and a computer company.
Green mail was another means of collecting money. The community was afraid of the Aum and they used this fear to take money from small communities with the promise of not moving into the area and selling drugs, through which they had an agreement with the Yakuza. Towards the end, Aum had acquired close to 1.5 billion dollars to use in the creation of WMDs.
(Olson, 1999, p. 514-515)Prior to the sarin gas attack in Tokyo, Aum experimented with biological weapons. Their first lab was set up in 1990 and later replaced by a lab in Kamakuishki and another in Tokyo, where they cultured and experimented with biological agents such as botulin, anthrax, and cholera. Members of the Aum were often sent out to foreign countries such as Zaire – to gather samples of the Ebola virus (Reader, 2012, p.
514) and Australia – to Mine for uranium and test chemical weapons (Nehorayoff et al., 2016, p. 39). Between 1990 and 1995 several failed attempts occurred but were never reported: two attempts to release botulin occurred, one outside of government buildings around the Diet and another at the crown prince’s wedding; an attempt to release anthrax spores from atop one of their laboratories; and another attempt to release botulin, right before the sarin attack, at a subway. These failures can be attributed to inexperienced biologists, wrong biological material, or lack of technologically run facilities.
(Reader, 2012, p. 514)Response On March 20, 1995, the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas on several subways in the Tokyo subway system, marking a turning point in counterterrorism operations within the U.S. Aum’s failed attempts had gone unnoticed until now. There had never been a non-state group to attempt to carry out an attack aimed at harming the civilian population through the use of biological toxins and human pathogens. The cult would later reveal its involvement in a failed attack at U.S. naval station in Yokohama.
(Rosenau, 2001, p. 289-290) It would appear that neither Japan nor the U.S. was aware of the terrorism surrounding them, and while they turned a blind eye Aum was growing stronger and planning attacks that would severely impact either country. In the years following the Tokyo subway attack, the U.S. began to develop and implement procedures to prevent, prepare, and recover from WMD attacks.
Aum’s failed attempt would provide the U.S. with the means to improve their countermeasures for combating the acquisition of WMD materials. Areas of concern are terrorists infiltrating and stealing poisonous toxins and diseases and the development of biological weapons by culturing pathogens in makeshift laboratories. Another possibility is state sponsors of terrorism. Though they risk retaliation from the U.
S. and the terrorists using those “paid for weapons” against them, it is possible that the two can conspire to create these weapons, the U.S. has a lot of enemies.
(Rosenau, 2001, p. 297-298) ConclusionAum has laid low since its members were arrested shortly after their sarin attacks. Their numbers have declined but those who have stayed committed continue to spread the teachings through educational seminars that are held monthly. Some members even go as far as wearing headsets designed to connect their brain wavelengths with that of their leader Matsumoto. (Olson, 1999. p. 516) Unlike before, their “newfound” religion is closely monitored and they’re not given the religious freedoms they once enjoyed. It is not clear when or where their next attack will occur.
Their previous failed attacks were experimental and their proclaimed Armageddon date was to occur over a decade ago. Depending on new teachings and leadership, will reflect on future attacks. ReferencesGardner, R. (2008). Aum Shinrikyo and a panic about manga and anime.
Japanese visual culture: Explorations in the world of Manga and Anime, 209-210.Nehorayoff, A. A., Ash, B., & Smith, D. S. (2016). Aum shinrikyo’s nuclear and chemical weapons development efforts.
Journal of Strategic Security, 9(1), 35-48. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy2.apus.
edu/10.5038/1944-04220.127.116.110Olson, K. B. (1999). Aum shinrikyo: Once and future threat? Emerging Infectious Diseases, 5(4), 513.
(use for future attacks)Reader, I. (2012). Globally aum: The aum affair, counterterrorism, and religion.Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 39(1), 179-198. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1019966738?accountid=8289 (how the attack changed counterterrorism)Rosenau, W.
(2001). Aum shinrikyo’s biological weapons program: Why did it fail? Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 24(4), 289-301. doi:10.
1080/10576100120887 (why AUM failed)Simons, E. (2006). Faith, fanaticism, and fear: Aum shinrikyo-the birth and death of a terrorist organization. Forensic Examiner, 15(1), 37-45.
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