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Aum Shinrikyo

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Aum Shinrikyo, today known as Aleph, was a Japanese cult founded in 1984 by Shoko Asahara.

Aum Shinrikyo started as a yoga and meditation class in which Asahara began to teach aspects of Buddhism, Christianity, and writings of Nostradamus. Asahara also claimed that he was Christ and that the United States was the beast written about in the Book of Revelation. Asahara claimed the world would end in a nuclear armageddon with the exception of his followers. Initiation rituals using LSD and other halucigenic drugs became common practice for the group as well.

The group fell into controversy over several of its questionable activities. Some of these activities included: deceiving recruits, forcing donations of money, holding members against their will, and even suspected murders of people who tried to leave. In 1995, Asahara co-ordinated a Sarin gas attack on five Tokyo subway trains which killed twelve people, injured fifty-four more, and affected a total of nine hundred and eighty people. The attacks were believed to be planned for the pupose of diverting police attention from the group. The opposite happened and several of the cult's compounds were raided, discovering a stockpile of biological weapons. Asahara went into hiding, but was eventually caught and sentenced to death.

The group still exists today, though it now goes by the name Aleph, a reference to the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In 2008, it was estimated that the group had a total of 1,650 members.

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