Aum Shinrikyo, Aum Supreme Truth
Shoko Asahara (b. Chizuo Matsumoto) (1955-)
include Fumihiro Joyu (1962-)
Tokyo, Japan (1987)
Asahara claimed to be a reincarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, who would lead his followers to salvation as the world ended. He blended Hindu and Buddhist beliefs with elements of the book of Revelation and the writings of the 16th-century Christian mystic Nostradamus. However, Aleph now presents itself as a spiritual and humanitarian organization.
Among other crimes, Asahara is infamous for ordering his followers to release highly toxic sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 people and injuring thousands. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death by hanging. Aleph continues to cite his writings online.
"The religious group Aleph made a fresh start in February, 2000 after dissolving Aum Shinrikyo," according to the Aleph web site, and has disavowed violence and apologized for the 1997 Tokyo attack, but there is still considerable skepticism about its true motives. In 2001 Aleph claimed branches in 12 Japanese cities. It has also spawned a splinter group known as “Hikari no Wa” (The Circle of Rainbow Light).
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