Swayed by a mixture of dark fascination with the outlaw life and dissatisfaction with their own lot, a small but passionate group of young people are bound by their professed admiration for the criminal members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, who 19 years ago Thursday unleashed deadly sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system.

Calling themselves "Aumers," some adore the cultists as if they were pop idols. Others say they feel excited by their insanity and even identify with them.

One self-proclaimed Aumer in her 20s who routinely blogs about her fascination with the cult said she thinks of them as her "idols," citing their handsomeness and stoicism.