OSINT Guide – Aum Shinrikyo

Also Known As: A.I.C.  Comprehensive Research Institute; A.I.C.  Sogo Kenkyusho; Aleph; Aum Supreme Truth; Aum; Aleph

Description:  The United States designated Aum Shinrikyo, a doomsday religious-political group led by Shoko Asahara who sought WMDs, as a FTO on October 8, 1997.  Following Asahara’s arrest by Japanese Police in in May 1995, Fumihiro Joyu took control of the organization and rebranded it as “Aleph.”

Targets: Key targets of Aum Shinrikyo include Japanese government facilities and civilian mass transit hubs, especially rail, using chemical weapons.

Activities: Aum Shinrikyo has attempted to execute numerous chemical weapon attacks to bring about the apocalypse. Aum Shinrikyo adherents released sarin gas on the Tokyo Subway on March 20, 1995, killing 12 and injuring 6,000. Cell members have attempted to free Asahara through attempted bombings on the Imperial Palace in Japan and through bomb threats on aircraft traveling from Japan to the United States.

Propaganda: Aleph maintains a website to enlighten followers.

 Strength:  As of November 2013, Aum Shinrikyo membership in Japan was estimated to be 1,650 with another 160 in Russia, with at least 32 structures in 15 prefectures in Japan and continues to possess several structures in Russia. This number is much lower than the watershed of 40,000 members worldwide, including 9,000 in Japan and 30,000 members in Russia after 1995 Tokyo attack.

AO:  Japan and Russia

Funding and External Aid:  Extortion of members

Surveillance of Aum Shinrikyo, c. 2005, courtesy of the Ministry of Justice

Surveillance of Aum Shinrikyo, c. 2005, courtesy of the Ministry of Justice

Local Media.

Aleph. Accessed December 17, 2014.

The Asahi Shimbum. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Fukuda, Masaaki. “The ‘De-nationalization’ of AUM Followers: Its Hidden Political Purpose.” CESNUR. November 1999. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Kyodo News. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

The Japanese Times. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Mainichi. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

NHK World. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Nikkei Asian Review.Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

NTV. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Religion News Blog. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Global Media:

BBC. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

CNN. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Foreign Affairs. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Foreign Policy. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

NYT. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Vice. Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

WaPo. Aum.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Think Tanks / Academic:

Bleek, Philipp C. “Revisiting Aum Shinrikyo: New Insights into the Most Extensive Non-State Biological Weapons Program to Date.” NTI. December 11, 2011. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Brookings. “Aum Shinrikyo .” Accessed November 25, 2014.

CFR. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

CNAS. “Aum Shinrikyo Insights Into How Terrorists Develop Biological and Chemical Weapons.”

CRS. “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” February 6, 2004. Accessed December 17, 2014.

CRS. “Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress.” September 24, 2014. Accessed December 17, 2014.

CRS. “Terrorist Motivations for Chemical and Biological Weapons Use: Placing the Threat in Context.” March 28, 2003. Accessed December 17, 2014.

CRS. “Weapons of Mass Destruction — the Terrorist Threat.” December 8, 1999. Accessed December 17, 2014.

CSIS. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

FAS. “Aum Supreme Truth (Aum).” April 30, 2004. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Monterey Institute of International Studies. “Chronology of Aum Shinrikyo’s CBW Activities.” 2001. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Pagni, Robyn. “Consequence Management in the 1995 Sarin Attacks on the Japanese Subway System.” Harvard University. February 2002. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Seto, Yasuo. “The Sarin Gas Attack in Japan and the Related Forensic Investigation.” OPCW. June 1, 2001. Accessed December 17, 2014.

TRAC. “Aum Shinri Kyo.” Accessed December 16, 2014.

Government:

Clinehens, Neal A. “Aum Shinrikyo and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Case Study.” Air Command and Staff College. April 2000. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Defense Department. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

DIA. “Annual Threat Assessment.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

FBI. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

Olson, Kyle B. “Aum Shinrikyo: Once and Future Threat? Emerging Infectious Diseases (CDC) 5 no 4. (August 1999). Accessed December 17, 2014.

Ministry of Justice. “Aum Shinrikyo.”  2005. Accessed December 17, 2014.

National Police Agency (Japan). “The White Paper on Police.” 2009. Accessed December 17, 2014.

NCTC. “Aum Shinrikyo.” 2014. Accessed December 17, 2014.

Senate Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “Global Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Case Study on the Aum Shinrikyo.” October 31, 1995. Accessed December 17, 2014.

State Department. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Chapter 6: Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.

——. “Aum Shinrikyo.” Accessed December 17, 2014.

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