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Monday, January 27, 2014

The Supreme Truth About The Aum Shinrikyo - Part 3

Holy crap... I had no idea this would have to be a four-parter, but we are coming to the conclusion of our look at the Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese religious cult that used the toxic nerve gas sarin as a means to destroy the world in order to save it.

Apparently that only makes sense to crazy people.

Oh wait... Noah's Ark and that whole flood thing. (While some might poo-poo the whole Ark story, there is ample scientific evidence of a huge flood - though maybe not a global one.)

You should, but don't have to, read the primer and second part of my report on the Aum Shinrikyo cult to get a better understanding of things. I should tell that aside from the take-over-the-world-to-save-it thing, it is quite impossible for me to get into the mind of the members of this terrorist organization - especially with court trials coming up soon for many of the key members.

Anyhow... let's take a look at the final act of terror (hopefully) caused by the Aum Shinrikyo on the peoples of Japan. The fourth part will look at what happened to the Aum Shinrikyo after the following terrorist attack. This one is too long to NOT break into another blog. Sorry.

The founder and leader of the Aum Shinrikyo is Asahara Shoko (surname first) began his religion out of his yoga studio... which also doubled as his apartment in Tokyo. For the record, his real name is Matsumoto Chizuo (surname first).

It's March 20, 1995… morning rush-hour in Tokyo…

The Aum Shinrikyo has targeted random passengers aboard subway trains on three different lines.

Five deliverers of the sarin, and five getaway drivers are involved - 10 people in total are going to be physically involved in a major terrorist attack in Japan:

Assigned Train          Perpetrator              Driver
Chiyoda Line             Ikuo Hayashi            Tomomitsu Niimi
train A725K                 (林 郁夫)                   (新実 智光)

Marunouchi Line       Kenichi Hirose         Koichi Kitamura
train A777                     (広瀬 健)                 (北村 浩)

Marunouchi Line       Toru Toyoda            Katsuya Takahashi
train B801                     (豊田 亨)                 (高橋 克也)

Hibiya Line                Masato Yokoyama    Kiyotaka Tonozaki
train B711T                  (横山 真人)               (外崎 清隆)  

Hibiya Line                Yasuo Hayashi          Shigeo Sugimoto
train A720S                  (林 泰男)                   (杉本 繁郎)

Four of the five delivers carried two plastic bags containing an approximate total of 900 milliliters of the liquid form of sarin - Hayashi Yasuo (surname first) carried three bags. Each bag was wrapped in newspaper bought just prior to the attack by either the driver or the perpetrator. Each perpetrator also carried an umbrella with the tip sharpened.

The plan called for each, at pre-arranged subway stops, to drop a pack and puncture it with the umbrella while still in the train, exiting as the doors opened at the station. They would then leave the station and be picked up by the driver.

The Players (surname first): 
  1. Hayashi Ikuo:
    You might think that people in this terrorist organization must be complete whack-jobs - and perhaps they were... but as far as education goes, Hayashi was a senior medical doctor with a great record at Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. He was a heart and artery specialist, and later head of circulatory medicine at a hospital before he, in 1990, resigned and joined the Aum Shinrikyo. As a favorite of cult leader Asahara Shoko, he was named Minister of Healing... which wasn't as benevolent as it sounded. Hayashi's duties included administering sodium pentothal (truth serum) and electric shocks to Aum members suspected of disloyalty. It later came out that there were a few deaths from his 'healing' treatments. he was 48 at the time of the subway attacks.    
  2. Hirose Kenichi: Only 30, Hirose had a post-grad degree in physics from Waseda University. Also a part of Aum Shinrikyo's Ministry of Science and Technology he was a key figure in their Chemical Brigade as well as its Automatic Light Weapon Development attempts (see 1st part of this blog article).   
  3. Toyoda Toru:
    27 years old when the subway attack occurred, he has a MA degree in applied physics and was about to get his PHd when he figured he could get a better education at Aum Shinrikyo's Chemical Brigade.
  4. Yokoyama Masato: he was 31 at the time of the attack. He was a graduate in applied physics from the engineering department of Tokai University. He was working for an electronics company when he quite and joined the cult becoming undersecretary at the group's Ministry of Science and Technology. He was also involved in their Automatic Light Weapons Development group.
  5. Hayashi Yasuo:
    37 at the time of the attacks, he studied artificial intelligence at university, and after graduating he went to India to study yoga... so not really interested in using that university degree...Joing the Aum Shinrikyo in 1988 he became one of the top three at the cult's Ministry of Science and Technology. Because cult leader Asahara had once suspected him of being a spy, he carried three packs of sarin to prove his loyalty to the cause. 

I just want to say - just how difficult it was to try and get photos of the five men who released the sarin gas in the Tokyo subways! I could find plenty of photos of other members of the Aum Shinrikyo who were involved in different aspects of terrorist activities... but dammit... I could not find photos of Hirose Kenichi nor of Yokohama Masato. If anyone can direct me to images of these two, it would be greatly appreciated.

Stations, Everyone:
  1. Chiyoda Train Line: Hayashi  boards train A725K - the first car going southwest, at 7:48AM. Hayashi wore a flu mask - which does NOT look uncommon in Japan, as many people wear such masks to show go to work even while sick. As the train approached Shin-Ochanomizu Station, the central business area in the Chiyoda District of Tokyo, he pierced one of the two sarin pouches on the train floor - leaving one untouched - and left the train at Shin-Ochanomizu. With the sarin leaking out and evaporating into the air, and with people complaining of something in the newspaper-wrapped pack, at Kasumigaseki (four train stations later), station attendants boarded the train car and removed the two bags... the train continued for another station, was evacuated of passengers and crew and was cleaned. Two (2) station attendants who came in contact while removing the sarin pouches die.
  2. Marunouchi Train Line I: Hirose gets onto a westbound Marunouchi Line train, transfers to JR East Saikyo Line at Shinjuku Station and exits later at Ikebukuro Station to purchase a sports newspaper to wrap his two packs of sarin pouches. He then gets into the second car of westward Train A777 on the Marunouchi Line. Placing the two wrapped sarin pouches on the ground, he felt that the newspaper crinkling had attracted the attention of a Japanese school girl, so he picked up the two pouches and exited the train at Korakuen or Myogadani Station... and moved back one car to the third train car. With the train approaching Ochanomizu Station, Hirose dropped his two sarin packs, said an Aum Shjinrikyo mantra, and poked each pack with his pointy umbrella - poking it so hard he bent the tip - but releasing all 900mL of sarin onto the floor - left the train and left the station to be picked up by his car driver. Now... despite two packs being pierced... it was a long 14 train station stops later that two sick people were carried out of that train car... and train station attendant Nishimura Sumio removed the two sarin packs. No one cleaned the train car.. and so, five stops later at 8:38AM, the train reached the end of the line at Ogikubo Station. Heading back east, passengers continue to board the train... but thankfully just two stops later at Shin-Koenji Station it was taken out of service as many passengers became sick - along with those who were exposed to it for 14 train stops. All told, only one person died (one of the two who were initially carried out), but 358 passengers were seriously injured.
  3. Marinouchi Train Line II: Yokoyama's job was to release the sarin on a Ikebukro-bound train. Driven to the Shinjuku Station, Yokohama donned a wig and fake glasses and wrapped his two pouches of sarin packs in a newspaper purchased earlier. He got onto the fifth train car of the B801 train heading to Ikebukuro, Tokyo. With the two packs on the ground of the train, as it approached Yotsuya Station, Yokoyama poked the sarin pouches and left the train and was picked up by the driver. Luckily, however, the two packs of sarin were not fully puncture... in fact, one was still intact. This meant only one pack, with a tiny hole, slowly released its deadly contents. The train reached the terminus of Ikebukuro at 8:30, passengers left... the train was searched, but the packets were not seen... or rather they were missed. Now called the A801 train, it left at 8:32AM heading back towards Korakuen Station... but soon passengers started feeling ill and pointed out the sarin-soaked packs to station attendants at Korakuen Station, who, one stop later at Hongo-sanchome Station removed the packs and mopped the floor... but allowed the train to continue on its way. At 9:09AM, it arrived back at Shinjuku and, after changing train numbers again - now B901 - the train headed back towards Ikebukuro. The train was finally put out of service at Kokkai-gijidō-mae Station in Chiyoda at 9:27AM... which, was a total of one hour and forty minutes after Yokoyama first punctured a pack and left the train. Luckily... no one died, but there were over 200 people made ill.
  4. Hibiya Train Line I: Toyoda was to release his two packs of sarin on the northeast-bound Tōbu Dōbutsu Kōen train of the Hibiya Line. Toyoda boarded the B711T Hibiya train at Naka-Meguro Station at 7:59AM, sitting in the first car near a door. Placing the two newspaper wrapped packs on the floor, at Ebisu Station (the next stop for Toyoda), he punctured both backs with the umbrella point and exited the train. Passengers began to feel ill two stops later at Roppongi Station and began to open the train windows. The next stop was Kamiyacho and by then, the passengers were panicking, causing the first car to be evacuated and several passengers to hospital for sickness. And yet... the train continued on. At the next stop, however, Kasumigaseki Station, the entire train was evacuated. On this attack, one person dead and 532 seriously ill.
  5. Hibiya Train Line II: Hiyashi's job was to poison people along the southwest bound Hibiya Line on a train heading towards Naka-Meguro station.  As you will recall, in order to prove his loyalty, Hiyashi carried three packs of sarin liquid, something he himself asked to do. Dropped off at Ueno Station, he got aboard the third car of train A720S at 7:43AM and headed south. Dropping his three sarin packs, he quickly punctured them and exited at Akihabara Station and was picked up and driven back to the headquarters of the Aum Shinrikyo. Passengers still on board began to feel ill... and, after one passenger correctly surmised that the trouble was coming from the wet packages on the floor, he kicked them all out at Kodenmachō Station, where they landed on its subway platform. Unfortunately, four people died from sarin exposure on the platform. But... as we know, the pouches were pierced by Hiyashi's umbrella, so even though the packs had been moved out of the train, a puddle remained... and as it evaporated into a gaseous form, the sarin continued its deadly course. Ay 8:10AMm as the train left Hatchōbori Station, a passenger in the third car pressed the emergency stop button. Because the train was in a tunnel, the train continued on to Tsukiji Station. Upon arrival, passengers stumbled and crawled out of the train, and collapsed on the platform. Needless to say, the train was taken out of service. No one knew what was going on at first, but by 8:35AM, the entire Hibiya train line was shut down when station attendants realized it was a chemical attack.

Final tally: eight dead, 275 seriously ill and Japan knew for sure it had just faced a terrorist attack... but by whom?

In the next blog we'll look at how the Aum Shinrikyo got caught and what's happening to cult members now.

Andrew Joseph

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