FALSE PROPHET: THE AUM CULT OF TERROR
A Time of War
Asaharas megalomania was at an all time high. He had succeeded in surrounding himself with an army of loyal followers who were prepared to follow him to the death. Scientists, physicians, soldiers and even members of the Yakuza had sworn their allegiance to the "master."
Opposition to the sect was steadily mounting. Numerous complaints about Aum were filed with the authorities every week, regarding noxious fumes emanating from the compound, damaged crops, mysterious illnesses and the ever present strange noises. Several police raids were mounted at various Aum sites across the country but Aum managed to keep the police at bay. Within the sect many followers were becoming increasingly disillusioned. One, a 62-year-old woman, had devoted her life and over $600,000 of her savings to Aum. Faced with what she saw as alarming behavior within the sect, she left and promptly went into hiding. Asahara ordered her to be found and returned. One of his men attempted to locate her but failed.
Yoshihiro Inoue, Asaharas brutal and deadly intelligence chief, was given the task of bringing the woman back. Inoue and his squad tried a different tactic, they abducted Kiyoshi Kariya, the womans 68-year-old brother, as he was walking home. Threatening phone calls had been made to the mans house earlier demanding to know where his sister was, but the man had refused to talk. That he feared for his life was evident in the note he left for his family "If I disappear, I was abducted by Aum Supreme Truth."
Kariya was beaten and drugged and taken to the Mt. Fuji compound. Along with physicians Nakagawa and Hayashi, Inoue tortured the man for hours. More drugs were administered but the man refused to divulge the whereabouts of his sister. Eventually Kiyoshi drifted into a drug-induced coma and died.
The body was placed into a large industrial microwave oven and cooked for two days then soaked in a bath of nitric acid. What little remained of Kiyoshi Kariya was dumped in a nearby lake. After the abduction, the police went into action, making final preparations for what would be the biggest police raid in Japans history.
Oblivious, Asahara spoke of staging a major coup. He wanted a full-blown invasion of government facilities, complete with air bombardment. The plan that he finally settled for was much simpler but just as lethal. The target was to be the Tokyo subway, the weapon sarin. As a final prelude, Asahara gathered over a hundred of his followers before him and urged them to sacrifice themselves and "fight as one." Predicting that he would be captured, he assured them that he would return. It was his last personal address.
Tokyos subway system carries 2.7 billion passengers per year. In one day the system transports 5 million people with very few delays. The main target was Kasumigaseki station and the attack was coordinated to start on Monday March 20, 1995, at 8:00 a.m. in the middle of the morning rush hour.
Hideo Murai was in charge. Anxious to avoid any equipment failures, he devised a foolproof method. Selected members were to carry bags of sarin onto the trains, puncture them and leave the deadly substance to leak into the subway. The men selected for the task, Kenichi Hirose, Yasuo Hayashi, Masato Yokoyama, Toru Toyoda and Dr. Ikuo Hayashi waited while Aums scientists prepared their deadly packages. Sheets of toxic-resistant polythene were fashioned into small bags and filled with sarin. These bags were, in turn, contained within larger bags. Five umbrellas, with specially sharpened tips, were given to each of the men. After several "practice sessions," the men were ready to go.
With knapsacks full of sarin packs and a supply of sarin antidote pills, the hit squad left the compound several hours before dawn. On the way to their destinations, the five men wrapped their packs in newspaper and tape. Each of the men was dropped at a different station to board separate trains that would all converge on Kasumigaseki station. Hayashi was dropped off at Ueno station at 7 a.m. and boarded his train.
The next to board was Toyoda. He calmly entered Hibiya station, bought a ticket and took his seat. Hirose was not as cool as Toyoda, he was sweating as he took his seat, placing the package gingerly on the floor between his feet. Yokoyama was in place on his train on the Marunouchi line. Dr. Hayashi took the Chiyoda line. As the five trains approached Kasumigaseki station, the five men punctured their packages with the umbrellas and got off at the next stop.
Each of the packages leaked onto the floor of their compartments. The sarin fumes began spreading almost immediately and soon many passengers were coughing and feeling nauseous. As the trains reached their next stops, several passengers collapsed on the platforms, others ran for the station exits. Soon, the area surrounding the stations was littered with dead and dying commuters. Alerted by railway staff, ambulances and other emergency vehicles rushed to the site. Police, army and emergency personnel speculated on the cause, unsure if it was a gas leak, a bomb or terrorist activity.
Within a few short hours, 12 commuters lay dead and 5,500 others were injured to varying degrees. Some would be permanently affected from hideous injuries. One woman had her contact lenses "welded" to her eyeballs by the nerve gas and had to have both her eyes surgically removed. The method of the attack was unknown until military specialists entered the subway in the early afternoon and established that the compound used had been sarin nerve gas.
Meanwhile, the five terrorists made their escape. They reached the compound several hours later. Asahara congratulated them, gave them money and told them to go away and hide.