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Homeland Security

Tokyo Subway Sarin Attack

On 20 March 1995, 5 members of a large religious cult known as Aum Shinrikyo/ Supreme Truth carried 11 packages onto Tokyo subway trains and punctured the packages with umbrella tips, releasing deadly sarin gas that killed 12 persons and injured more than 5,000.

The cult's plan of attack was fairly sophisticated compared to previous attempts with 3 Biological and 1 Chemical attack. It relied on the efficiency of the subway system itself. Knowing that selected trains would converge at a single large station in the heart of Tokyo almost simultaneously, the cult planned to time the release of Sarin to maximize casualties. By releasing Sarin in different subway cars on different routes miles away from the center Tokyo station, as the cars came together, the effect of the Sarin would be concentrated, thereby maximizing casualties.

The subway cars converged on the central station as scheduled. Eventually, twelve people died as a direct result of the assault. Over 5000 were injured, some receiving such severe damage to their cardiovascular system that they will ultimately die as a result of the attack.

This attack was motivated by the leader Asahara's, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, undying conviction that he should accelerate the apocalyptic battle which Aum Shinrikyo strongly believed was coming. He believed that the ensuing deaths and panic from the subway assault would paralyze Tokyo and the entire Japanese government. He was also motivated in an attempt to derail a murder investigation linked to Aum Shinrikyo, in the hopes that the resulting panic would overwhelm the police. While not immediately attributed to Aum Shinrikyo, the Sarin gas attack was eventually traced to the cult.

Japanese police arrested Asahara in May 1995, and he was convicted and sentenced to death on February 27, 2004 on all 13 counts. Several key Aum figures remain at large.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:50:31 ZULU