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Photos of opponents found stabbed in Aum facility

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Photographs of the director general and other officials of the Public Security Intelligence Agency were found stabbed through with a knife during an on-site inspection of a facility connected to Aum Shinrikyo, according to the agency.

The photos, found earlier this year during an inspection of Aleph, the group that succeeded Aum, included images of PSIA Director Michiaki Ozaki, other high-ranking agency officials and a lawyer for Aum victims.

The photographs were pierced by a 10-cm knife and positioned in front of an altar, according to images released by the agency.

The agency inspects several Aleph facilities across the country. It rarely discloses information gathered during such inspections but has made an exception due to the hateful nature of the cult and the potential threat it poses to the public.

Aum renamed itself Aleph in 2000 following the arrest and trial of its members, including founder Shoko Asahara, over the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways and other crimes. While some members left the cult to form the splinter group Hikari no Wa, Aleph is thought to adhere to Aum’s, and Asahara’s, doomsday tenets.

According to a report by the agency last month, Aleph has recruited more than 200 members annually in the last two years. There are approximately 1,500 followers in Japan and another 140 in Russia, where the group has held workshops, the agency said Monday.

The report also points out that Aleph remains close to Asahara, who is now on death row, and still celebrates his birthday and his teachings. The group “forces its members to pray that Asahara’s life is prolonged,” the agency said in the report.

As of June, the agency had conducted 521 on-site inspections of Aum-related facilities since 2000. Aleph and other Aum-related organizations are also required to submit annual reports on their operations.