The Netflix documentary, In The Name Of God: A Holy Betrayal, has been shocking viewers with appalling stories about different Korean cults. But, of course, many cults have committed atrocious acts that are still active to this day, including the infamous Aleph cult.
On March 26, 1995, police raided a cult compound in Kamikuishiki, Japan, discovering a hidden chemical production plant that contained “enough chemicals to kill tens of millions,” according to The Guardian.
The Aleph cult (formerly Amu Shinrikyo) was created by Shoko Asahara (also known as Chizuo Matsumoto), who aspired to be the world’s ruler.
It was as if Asahara wanted to create Armageddon all on his own.
— Japanese official
Shoko Asahara was born with a visual impairment, and many suspect that during his time at a school for blind children, philosopher Desiderius Erasmus‘s well-known quotation stood out to him most.
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
— Desiderius Erasmus
But Shoko Asahara’s pilgrimage to the Himalayas in the 1980s established the groundwork for his cult, which combined a mixture of Hindu, Buddhist, and apocalyptic Christian beliefs.
The Aleph cult, a doomsday cult, suggested that the world would be destroyed after a third world war. Only the cult’s members would survive under the guidance of the “enlightened” Shoko Asahara.
After securing official status as a religious organization in Japan in 1989, the Aleph cult significantly increased in size, with many members even coming from prestigious backgrounds, including Shoko Asahara’s lawyer, who was a graduate of Kyoto University, since the cult promised them meaning for their life.
Police began investigating the Aleph cult after they staged a coordinated attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, releasing the toxic gas, sarin, killing 13 people and injuring over five thousand.
But throughout the investigation, the police realized that the Aleph cult had been involved in multiple deadly crimes since 1989, targeting different lawyers and judges who were seen as the cult’s “enemies” while killing and injuring others in the process.
The sarin gas was even used in another attack in 1994, which killed eight victims and injured around 500 others.
Sarin (military designation GB) is a nerve agent that is one of the most toxic of the known chemical warfare agents. It is generally odorless and tasteless. Exposure to sarin can cause death in minutes. A fraction of an ounce (1 to 10 mL) of sarin on the skin can be fatal. Nerve agents are chemically similar to organophosphate pesticides and exert their effects by interfering with the normal function of the nervous system.
And then, on March 20, 1995, the Aleph cult launched their coordinated attack on subways in central Tokyo. Different cult members boarded separate subway lines, dropping a bag of sarin and puncturing it before exiting the train and escaping in a getaway car.
Not only did fumes from the gas spread, but passengers carried sarin on their clothes and shoes. According to Britannica, many of the victims “were those who came into contact with the agent while trying to assist those who already had been stricken.”
After the deadly Tokyo attack, police were able to recognize parallels between some of the Aleph cult’s earlier attacks and promptly raided the cult’s offices in Tokyo and the compound in Kamikuishiki.
Police quickly found the hidden chemical production facilities, which had been producing immense quantities of sarin and other deadly gases to “protect” the cult from any possible threats. Between 1993 and 1995, ten confirmed chemical attacks were executed by the Aleph cult.
During the police raids, multiple cult members were arrested and underwent trial, including Shoko Asahara, who was later sentenced to execution.
Similarly, after the raids, the Aleph cult lost its official status as a religious organization. Still, the Japanese parliament rejected the request to outlaw the cult entirely, despite many members having been executed or imprisoned.
But the group is still in existence, reportedly with over two-thousand members. Still, the public hasn’t forgotten the cult, frequently boycotting businesses run by cult members, leading to the business’ closure.
You can read about Korean cults here.