The Nuclear Terrorism Threat and the Aum Shinrikyo Cult Essay

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The Nuclear Terrorism Threat and the Aum Shinrikyo Cult

Until the mid seventies, the term nuclear terror was used predominately to describe the threat of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Since then, however, it has taken on a whole new meaning which many security experts feel poses a more serious threat to national security. In the past few decades, formal terrorist organizations have exploded planes out of the sky, bombed US military and diplomatic facilities abroad, and with the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombing incidents, they have even launched attacks on American soil.

Yet until 20 March 1995 when five members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system, the world had not seen
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The guru, Asahara, is an essential guide throughout this spiritual evolution. Members of the group believe that salvation will only be achieved after Armageddon, even for those who are killed in the process. In spite of its religious nature, Aum's leadership structure was organized in the form of a ministerial cabinet patterned after the Japanese government.

Since its establishment in 1987, the Aum organization expanded physically, geographically, and financially. It is believed that at its height, the group had over 65,000 members, yet only 10,000 of these were located in Japan. Aum had a large representation in Russia, approximately three times the number of followers in Japan and half of its total membership worldwide. By the end of 1994, there were six Aum Shinrikyo branches in Moscow alone and another eleven offices outside the capital city. On a smaller scale, Aum established branches in Germany and the US and claimed small groups of followers in Australia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. The organization's financial assets were accumulated through fund raising, donations, and a variety of legitimate business efforts, from computer businesses in Taiwan to

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