Foundations of Terrorism
Case Study of Aum Shinrikyo terrorist group
Terrorism is founded on carefully planned structures. This paper intends to discuss terrorist organizations by developing a case study of Aum Shinrikyo terrorist group.
Origin of Aum Shinrikyo
Aum Shinrikyo refers to a doomsday cult whose origin is in Japan. The cult was formed by Shoko Asahara in the year 1984 (Ingram, 2017). Aum Shinrikyo earned international infamy after carrying out a deadly attack on Tokyo subway in the year 1995. Furthermore, in 1994 Aum Shinrikyo was also involved in a small sarin attack (Ingram, 2017). However, initially, Aum Shinrikyo conducted its activities in secret and never confessed. Shoko Asahara, the founder of Aum Shinkyo, bought a signal in Russia, which he directed to Japan and uses it in broadcasting his singing and persisting on his blamelessness (Ingram, 2017).
In 2007 Aum Shinrikyo was divided into two groups a group known as Aleph and a group called “Hikari no Wa” (Ingram, 2017). Thus, Aum Shinkyo became designated by many countries as a terrorist association. Among the countries is Japan and North Korea. For instance, in Korea, the commission in charge of examining public security made a public announcement in 2015 in the month of January that the group Aleph along with “Hikari no Wa” group is both branches of religion, which is considered as dangerous (Ingram, 2017). The commission also added that it would continue surveillance on the two groups for three subsequent years.
As a logistical set-up, Aum Shinkyo inspired and is still inspiring acts of terrorism globally. Notably, Aleph which is one of the groups of Aum Shinrikyo is a system based on syncretism belief (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). Aleph draws upon an idiosyncratic understanding of elements by Shoko Asahara regarding ancient Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hinduism. The main icon of worship was taken to be Shiva (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). Aleph also incorporates millennialism ideas, which it borrows from the Bible’s Revelation book (Orsini, 2015).
Aleph also borrows from Yoga and Nostradamus writings (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). Aum Shinrikyo’s group Aleph was founded by Chizuo Matsumoto who alleged that he was seeking to reinstate original Buddhism. Thus, in the year 1992, Chizuo Matsumoto started calling himself Shoko Asahara, which became his name (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
In the same year 1992, Shoko Asahara was able to publish an introductory book where he declared himself to be “Christ.” Furthermore, in the book Shoko Asahara refers to himself as the only master who is fully enlightened and identifies with “God’s Lamb” (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
Command structure of Aum Shinrikyo
Aum Shinrikyo is known to apply precise methodologies. Furthermore, Aum Shinrikyo has a prearranged study of doctrine which is in harmony with a particular system of learning. For a follower of Aum Shinrikyo to reach another stage, it is expected that the member successfully passes a given exam (Orsini, 2015). The practice of meditation is combined with hypothetical studies.
However, Shoko Asahara emphasized to his followers that hypothetical studies cannot serve any purpose when practical experience is not achieved. Additionally, Shoko Asahara also advised members of Aum Shinrikyo never to try explaining anything if they could not mostly experience it (Orsini, 2015).
Aum Shinrikyo’s followers were grouped into two. The first group was lay practitioners. The lay practitioners are Aum Shin rik yo’s members who live together with their families (Orsini, 2015). A second group is a group of members who lived a lifestyle that is ascetic. In most cases, the second group included individuals who usually live as a group (Orsini, 2015). For any follower to earn the status of an attained member, it was an obligation for the member to meet precise conditions so as to influence senior members to recognize that the member has reached a state of higher spirituality (Orsini, 2015).
For instance, in the stage of Kundalini Yoga a member was required to give a demonstration regarding his or her ability in showing abridged oxygen consumption, modification of electromagnetic activities of the brain, and reduced rate of the heart, which was to be proven by being measured using a corresponding equipment (Richards, 2014). When a member demonstrated all the changes described above, then he or she was considered having entered a higher state referred as Samadhi (Richards, 2014). Thus, a member who has attained Samadhi state was given permission to educate other members.
The purported mission of Shoko Asahara was taking all the sins that people in the world have committed. Shoko Asahara claimed that he had the ability to transfer spiritual power to Aum Shinrikyo’s members (Richards, 2014). Additionally, Shoko Asahara claimed he would ultimately cleanse Aum Shinrikyo’s members’ sins by taking them away. Consequently, scholars view Aum Shinrikyo as an outcome from Japanese Buddhism. The view by scholars influenced how Aum Shinrikyo’s definition and view of itself. Notably, Shoko Asahara made an outline of a prophecy on doomsday that integrated the “World War III” to be prompted by the United States (Richards, 2014).
Leadership of Aum Shinrikyo
Shoko Asahara is known to be the historical leader of Aum Shinrikyo. Furthermore, Shoko Asahara was also the chief of senior operations for Aum Shinrikyo (Sageman, 2014). Shoko Asahara came from a Japanese family that was poor. After realizing a personal enlightenment in religion, Shoko Asahara formed Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult (Sageman, 2014).
Shoko Asahara had recruited almost 10,000 followers to Aum Shinrikyo during the 1990s. Notably, Shoko Asahara dreamt of being an emperor in Japan. Thus, Shoko Asahara assumed the role of interim commander of Aum Shinrikyo (Sageman, 2014).
Shoko Asahara tried to register Aum Shinrikyo with Japan’s government based on the law of religious corporations known as “Shukyo-hojin-Ho” in 1989 (Shapiro, 2013). The registration was to include benefits such as privileges regarding taxation, rights of owning property as Aum Shinrikyo organization, along with protection from interference by the state and other external bodies (Shapiro, 2013).
Initially, the Japanese government denied permission of registration to Aum Shinrikyo citing a string of complaints raised by families with members practicing the Shukkesha (Shapiro, 2013). Shukkesha refers to a practice where members are demanded to sever all the ties they have with family and ensure they cease communication (Shapiro, 2013).
Aum Shinrikyo gave a response to the Japanese government’s rejection by holding public demonstrations, holding lawsuits, and starting legal appeals to counter the government’s decision. Consequently, in the month of August in the year 1989 Aum Shinrikyo was approved of a legal status (Zúquete, 2015).
Thus, Aum Shinrikyo started a new trend in 1989 of greeting every difficulty that comes their way with vigorous denials accompanied by lawsuits (Zúquete, 2015). Notably, in May of 1989 many parents had hired a lawyer from Yokohama known as Sakamoto Tsutsumi. However, Sakamoto uncovered claims that were faulty arguing that tests had been carried out in Kyoto University revealing that he had a unique DNA in his blood (Zúquete, 2015).
Afterward, Aum Shinrikyo started the practice of blood initiation, which was assumed to increase the spiritual power of an individual though no tests were run (Shapiro, 2013). Later, Sakamoto, his wife along with infant son disappeared. An Aum badge was found indicating that Aum Shinrikyo was involved with the disappearance, but no direct evidence was available to link the group.
Thus, Aum Shinrikyo embraced the accusations as an opportunity of getting publicity. Asahara professed the need for political action in saving the world thus, launching “Shinrito” political party which translates to “Supreme Truth Party” (Shapiro, 2013).
Motivation of Aum Shinrikyo
Aum Shinrikyo is motivated by both general reasons and particular motives. For instance, Tomomitsu Niimi attacked a VX victim at 7 am on the 12th of December in 1994 after Shoko Asahara reported of suspecting the victim of being a spy (Zúquete, 2015). The victim was murdered by being sprinkled on the neck for being a nerve agent. Aum Shinrikyo capitalizes on visions of the millennium along with predictions of the apocalypse in framing its doctrine. Consequently, Aum Shinrikyo is highly prejudiced by Nostradamus work. Notably, Nostradamus work provides a cornerstone to Aum Shinrikyo’s teachings.
Markedly, the followers of Aum Shinrikyo actively recruit students along with professionals working in the medicine field, field of science, field of computers, the engineering field, along with other areas, which are technical. Therefore, the charisma by Shoko Asahara and his messages appeared to have more appeal to a majority of people who felt estranged by the modern society, the secular society and the conformist features of the Society of Japan (Zúquete, 2015).
At the crest of Aum Shinrikyo, it is approximated to be worth over $1.5 billion. Notably, having enormous financial resources, Aum Shinrikyo is motivated to invest its capital in high-technology, laboratories for “state-of-the-art,” and funding Aum’s research. Thus, Aum Shinrikyo can circumvent restrictions, which are associated with large laboratories for corporate research.
Additionally, for Aum Shinrikyo to raise funds, they collect money from donations, followers tithe, and selling of sacred materials. Aum Shinrikyo also conducts seminars along with courses regarding the teachings of the cult where it charges all individuals who are participating in the sessions (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). Furthermore, Aum Shinrikyo diversifies its enterprises through running a string of hotels in Tokyo and a firm for manufacturing computers that assembles and sells computers within Japan using parts traded in from Taiwan.
Aum Shinrikyo is also motivated by the support it gets from a Japanese mafia known as the Yakuza, who provide the group with an agreement for marketing illegal drugs manufactured by Aum Shinrikyo. Aum Shinrikyo is also motivated by cooperation given by community leaders through engaging in greenmail practice, which involves extorting money from community leaders (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
Aum Shinrikyo extorts money from community leaders through threatening them about establishing Aum Shinrikwo’s branch office or an Aum Shinrikwo’s school in the local community in question. Consequently, Aum Shinrikyo also aims at gaining leverage by engaging in extortion, acts of coercion, engaging in theft along with murder as a way of raising money for the group.
Goals of Aum Shinrikyo
The primary goal of Aum Shinrikyo is to defend the ancient faith by promoting worldwide operations that endorse theologies collected from diverse sources. Furthermore, Aum Shinrikyo also operates on a goal of collapsing dictatorship from western countries and institutions within the Middle East. According to Shoko Asahara, Aum Shinrikyo has the goal of uniting all doctrines and establishing, forcefully a desperate need of the society adhering to rules given by the original Caliphs (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
For instance, in his religious decree, Shoko Asahara talks of individuals duty globally being leading a holy life through cleaning one’s sins based on the doctrine of Aum Shinrikyo, with Shoko Asahara as the self-proclaimed “Christ”. Furthermore, in the book Shoko Asahara refers to himself as the only master who is fully enlightened and identifies with “God’s Lamb” (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
The ideology of Aum Shinrikyo is based on an idiosyncratic understanding of elements by Shoko Asahara regarding ancient Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hinduism. The main icon of worship was taken to be Shiva (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). Aleph one of the groups of Aum Shinrikyo also incorporates millennialism ideas, which it borrows from the Bible’s Revelation book (Orsini, 2015).
Furthermore, Aleph also borrows from Yoga and Nostradamus writings (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). The ideology is manifested by Tomomitsu Niimi’s willingness to attack and murder a VX victim at 7 am on the 12th of December in 1994 after Shoko Asahara reported of suspecting the victim of being a spy.
Even though most doctrines disagree with almost all thoughts of Shoko Asahara, Aum Shinrikyo is rooted in earning a status (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014). For instance, the doctrine of Aum Shinrikyo dictates that in order for any follower to earn the status of an attained member, it is the obligation that member to meet precise conditions so as to influence senior members to recognize that the member has attained a state of higher spirituality (Orsini, 2015).
In one of the stages known as Kundalini Yoga a member was required to give a demonstration regarding his or her ability in showing abridged oxygen consumption, modification of electromagnetic activities of the brain, and reduced rate of the heart, which was to be proven by being measured using a corresponding equipment (Richards, 2014).
Threat posed by Aum Shinrikyo
Aum Shinrikyo poses a number of threats. According to an annual report by the department of state in the United States regarding global terrorism, Aum Shinrikyo is a great threat as it has evolved. Aum Shinrikyo has evolved leading to its current dispersion in the Middle East. The two groups Aleph and a group known as “Hikari no Wa”, which are operationally self-governing affiliates of Aum Shinrikyo are developing to be increasingly aggressive (Kearns, Conlon & Young, 2014).
Furthermore, the affiliates of Aum Shinrikyo in the Middle East use the instability of their regions to their advantage. Moreover, affiliates of Aum Shinrikyo tend to be financially sovereign from the central leadership of Aum Shinrikyo. Notably, affiliates of Aum Shinrikyo raise funds to run their operations from illegal activities such as extorting money from community leaders, acts of coercion, engaging in theft along with murder-kidnapping people and requesting for ransom or fraud of credit cards.
Aum Shinrikyo is also highly active in Japan according to the department of the state of the United States. Compared to all affiliates Aum Shinrikyo in Aleph is the greatest threat to the United States. The head of Aleph in Japan was appointed in 2013 to be the deputy leader of the entire system of Aum Shinrikyo globally (Finn & Momani, 2017). Furthermore, in 2013, acts of terrorism were influenced by sectarian reasons, which present a major threat.
It was also revealed that there was the resurgence in the activities conducted by Iranian security forces along with Iranian intelligence, as the two institutions were linked to primarily supporting Iran for its Assad administration in Syria. Iran also was revealed to have allies in Japan, known as “Hikari no Wa”. “Hikari no Wa” is a renowned terrorist group known for its high-level illegal activities and affiliation to Aum Shinrikyo.
Policies of combating Aum Shinrikyo
There are various policies of combating Aum Shinrikyo. Notably, Aum Shinrikyo is no longer hiding when performing its operations. At the moment Aum Shinrikyo controls its operations mainly from Japan. Thus, America is faced with a great challenge regarding its lifestyle. Aum Shinrikyo constantly fights against the United States with the aim of creating a global caliphate. Consequently, it has been globally recognized that there is need to acknowledge the terrorism problem intensity, and the magnitude required in terms of effort for combating the problem (Eid, 2014).
One of the policies of combating the problem of terrorism is having coordinated regional counterinsurgency operation. Markedly, this policy involves robust efforts of stabilization and combination of diplomatic efforts, political attempts, security endeavors, and informational attempts. The second policy is to end the brutality that averts regional cohorts from fighting Aum Shinrikyo, thus creating space or energy for Aum Shinrikyo to make recruitments and execute its operations.
The third policy is a unification of the private sector with the government in an effort of fighting Aum Shinrikyo. The fourth policy is creating strong partnerships locally as a way of ensuring the stability of governments (Eid, 2014). Notably, a majority of countries have developed less responsiveness to terrorism while others have been overpowered by terrorism through terrorists acquiring and staying on their land.
The main aim of having partnerships is to ensure that Aum Shinrikyo will not reemerge after it has been defeated. The fifth policy is analyzing the position held by key players who notably are within the majority world of Buddhism, Muslims, and Hinduism (Eid, 2014). For instance, partnering with Russia requires careful diplomatic engagement as its presence of forces within Aum Shinrikwo’s territories develops a challenge.
Terrorism is a global problem. For years the problem of terrorism has been shifting from one continent to another. Consequently, it has been established that terrorism is founded on carefully planned structures. Thus, this paper has discussed terrorism foundations by developing a case study of Aum Shinrikyo terrorist group. Aum Shinrikyo is known for dominating its operations within Japan along with the Middle East.
The paper above has revealed that initially, Aum Shinrikyo was a logistical set-up that aimed at defending the ancient faith by promoting worldwide operations that endorse theologies collected from diverse sources. Furthermore, it has come out clearly through the paper above that there are two separate groups of Aum Shinrikyo terrorist group. A group is known as Aleph and a group known as “Hikari no Wa”.
However, the paper has also revealed that Aum Shinrikyo cannot be termed as an organization rather Aum Shinrikyo refers to a doomsday cult whose origin is in Japan. Furthermore, the paper has revealed that activities of Aum Shinrikyo are motivated by both general reasons and specific motives. Thus, Aum Shinrikyo tends to engage in illegal acts as a way of gaining leverage. The illegal acts include engaging in extortion, acts of coercion, engaging in theft along with murder, as a way of raising money for the group.
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