Aum Shinrikyo leader Shoko Asahara - executed today
On March 20th, 1995, several members of a doomsday
cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin gas and other lethal nerve agents on
multiple lines of Tokyo subway during rush hour, killing 12 people.
The man behind one of Japan’s deadliest terrorist attacks
was Shoko Asahara. Nine months prior to the subway attack, Asahara coordinated
an assassination attempt on judges that were presiding over charges against his
cult, killing 8 people with sarin gas.
Immediately following the second attack, Asahara and several
members of the cult were arrested. Asahara was sentenced to death in 2004.
According to a psychiatrist appointed by the court, Asahara
displayed various odd behaviors, including defecating and urinating himself in
multiple court appearances, to fake insanity and avoid death penalty.
Asahara’s daughters claimed that they have not had a “real
conversation” with their father when they had visited him in prison. Over the
years, the daughters suggested Asahara’s mental disability was unaccounted for
his death sentence and petitioned for a retrial numerous times. The court
denied all of their petitions.
Asahara’s defense attorneys were unable provide evidence for
his mental disability.
14 years after his death sentence, Asahara and six other
cult members were executed on Friday by hanging.
Shoko Asahara founded Aum Shinrikyo in 1984. The doomsday
cult is a hybrid religion of Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hinduism.
The cult also incorporates ideas from Christian bible and Yoga.
Asahara officially changed his name from Chizuo Matsumoto in
1987 and declared himself as “Christ” and “Lamb of God”.
According to the Time
Magazine, Asahara recruited doctors, lawyers, and scientists from Japan’s
top universities to strengthen the cult’s credibility.
Aum Shinrikyo has been denounced as a terrorist
organization by Japan, European Union, Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan, and the U.S.
In a report by BBC, there are roughly
30,000 members of Aum Shinrikyo in Russia. In 2016, Russian police raided 25
homes and facilities in Moscow and St. Petersberg that were linked to the