The most violent modern cult was Aum Shinrikyo, or ‘supreme truth’, the ten thousand strong cult headquartered on the slopes of Mount Fuji, Japan, and headed by Shoko Asahara. Determined to bring about Armageddon so that he could rule everyone, Aum Shinrikyo became a mixture of Buddhism, occultism and fascism.
Fat, bearded and partially sighted, Asahara was born poor and was a bully, building up a huge stockpile of weapons and chemicals for his war. His cult was rounded up by armed police following a series of major crimes, the most infamous being his Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo underground on 20 March 1995, killing twelve and injuring thousands.
The Japanese authorities later discovered that his cult was based on his committing sexual and physical atrocities on his own members. Luckily, his attempts to get hold of a nuclear device failed.
(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007