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From Tesla to Asahara: One Japanese Death Cult's Insane Attempt to Split the World in Two

On May 28, 1993, a remote and dusty thicket of the Australian outback shook for hundreds of miles around. Deep reverberating explosions could be heard far and wide, the night sky illuminated by sporadic flashes of unexplained light—all this allegedly...

by Jake Hanrahan
Oct 18 2012, 4:00pm

On May 28, 1993, a remote and dusty thicket of the Australian outback shook for hundreds of miles around. Deep reverberating explosions could be heard far and wide, the night sky illuminated by sporadic flashes of unexplained light—all this allegedly witnessed by heavy goods drivers, gold prospectors and nomads traipsing the bush. Three truckers even spoke to an Australian geologist about the lights, claiming that they'd seen a "moon-sized fireball" which flew "from south to north with the speed of a jet plane." They said "it was yellow-orange in colour and had a small blue-white tail, which lit up the sky as it headed immediately west for Banjawarn station."

The strange event registered just shy of 4.0 on the Richter scale. Its blast could be heard over a radius of 90 square miles. The Australian government later dismissed the mysterious temblor as "probably being natural in origin". IRIS, the U.S. federal seismology agency, said that the Earth-shaking detonation was "170 times larger than the largest mining explosion ever recorded in that Australian region" and was proven to have the force of a nuclear bomb.

Some scientists speculated that it could've been a meteorite. But authorities found no signs of a crater as they searched for one via helicopter. Despite the fact that the epicentre of the ominous blast pointed in all directions to a remote research facility manned by Aum Shinrikyo, the notorious Japanese death-cult noted for its attempts at mining uranium and its grim obsession with alternative weapons technology, the whole event was eventually shrugged off and forgotten about.

On May 28, 1993, a remote and dusty thicket of the Australian outback shook for hundreds of miles around.

That is until two years later, when Aum waged its most brutal and notorious attack to date.

On March 20, 1995, deadly sarin nerve gas was released on the subways of Tokyo via five trains. The stunt killed 13 people and harmed over 5,000 others in what is considered the worst act of terrorism in Japanese history. The caustic gas – a Nazi invention used to kill Jews – was pumped into plastic bags and dispersed by five men who pierced the sacks with their umbrellas while shuffling out of the tube. These men were all members of Aum, whose ideology centers around preparing for a final nuclear skirmish with "The Powers That Be" as the end of days approach.

Those behind the gassing weren't your average brainwashed cultists, though. These men all held professional qualifications that would hang prestigiously on any office wall. Among their ranks were a senior medical doctor and four graduated physicists—one of whom even finished with honors and a Master's degree. They had the whole thing planned to a T, with getaway drivers and maps detailing their poisoning route. Most of the accused were eventually caught and hung for their crimes.

But the oddball leader of the cult, Shoko Asahara, seems to have slipped through the cracks. Asahara was likewise condemned to being hanged, only the guy has mysteriously vanished within the Japanese prison system. There's no clear evidence confirming he's ever kicked the gallows, or not, because Japanese authorities say he's alive. Yet his execution date past eight years ago. What's certain, though, is that Asahara founded the cult in 1984 on a mixed bag of beliefs, which he deemed "The Supreme Truth". He also believed he was a reincarnation of the Hindu god Shiva. And as commander of the sarin gas attacks, his aim was to throw authorities into chaos, hoping it'd hinder their snowballing investigations into the cult.

The group, now known as Aleph, is said to have over 50,000 members worldwide. They've kidnapped and murdered an anti-cult lawyer and his family for speaking out against them. They even have a lavish commune at the base of Mount Fuji. In 1990, members of the cult were convicted of murder after injecting toxins into the neck of an escapee's brother at the mountainside compound.

The ruthless Aum Shinrikyo was back in the news in January when a senior member turned himself in on New Year's Eve. He'd been on the run for 17 years. And so there he sat, guilty in the dock, trying to prove he wasn't too deeply involved with this insane cult by making strange faces and growling noises at the jury. By June, two more at-large Aum members were arrested – then one more, believed to have been a driver in the tube attacks and reportedly the "last remaining Aum member", was caught. Now, rumors are circulating on the dark web that diehard Aum Shinrikyo followers are reforming to fight off whatever evil is headed our way come late December.

We'll see about that. These are rumors, after all. I'm not saying the world isn't visibly slipping into a state of imminent collapse, but I don't think an all out head on collision will erupt by the time December 21 rolls around, and the prospect of Aum Shinrikyo starting a nuclear war to combat the apocalypse is even less likely.

Even so, just given the group's previous history—they've been "investigated by the CIA" for trying to buy nuclear warheads, and it's even said that they had at one point infiltrated the Kremlin—you'd be hardpressed to wholly ignore what could've been the Aum's biggest and most terrifying accomplishment to date: a Tesla death ray potentially capable of causing ground shaking knells not unlike a severe earthquake. It sounds a bit ridiculous, sure. But that brings us back to the 3.9 Richter-scale explosion out in the Australia outback.

Aum’s anime recruitment

The bizarre cult came to be after the almost blind Shoko Asahara took a trip to the Himalayan Mountains and found "enlightenment" at high altitude. The doctrine for Aum Shinrikyo followed: an amalgamation of Hindu and Buddhist spirituality beliefs, Bible scriptures and Nostradamus-like endtimes predictions. Asahara claimed he could save his followers when the end of the world strikes, and that he could teach them the art of levitation. He even offered up his blood and bathwater for them to drink—for a price, of course. Somehow, the cult gained a huge following and earned itself a cut-throat reputation after its ranks began murdering anyone who attempted to leave or argued with their beliefs.

As Aum's following intensified, so did their plundered finances. And shortly after a failed attempt at dispersing botulinum bacteria (the most powerful neurotoxin on earth, which is injected regularly into the faces of rich housewives in the form of botox) from their main offices in Japan in 1993, they decided to pack up and head for Australia.

With a collective fortune then reported to be around $1 billion, Aum Shinrikyo used some spare change to purchase 500,000 acres of land in a desolate part of Western Australia called Banjawan. So now, with a totally isolated plot the size of London situated in the wild outback of Oz to play around with, the doomsday cult members began transporting hulking gear into the country. The imported items included a JCB mechanical digger, mining equipment, an underground excavating machine, huge electric generators, gas masks, respiratory devices and manual quarrying equipment. The self-proclaimed alchemists also attempted to import lethal chemicals—substances like hydrochloric acid, sodium sulphate and ammonium water. Some of these were labelled falsely as harmless liquids and confiscated by Australian Customs on the way in.

The Australian police filed a report at the time stating that the travelling cult members as a collective paid $20,000 in extra fees for their lethal baggage. But despite the would-be tip off, Aum members were allowed to move into Banjawan, where they set up a "research facility". Staff at this nerve-gas producing, uranium-mining laboratory are said to have not only represented highly educated and unhinged cult members, but also included two recently resigned Soviet nuclear scientists.

To say that a 50,000-strong Japanese doomsday cult bent on stockpiling weapons for the Four Horsemen's arrival; with privately-owned land the size of a major city; hundreds of millions of dollars; a pair of Soviet scientists in tow; an unrelenting desire to spur death and destruction; and what would become a deep understanding of Tesla weaponry, worked with Soviet professors on their rural Australian experiments, may at first sound like something spouted from lips of the lizard-fearing David Icke. But sure enough, in 1992 Asahara was pictured rubbing shoulders with Oleg Lobov. Lobov was one of Boris Yeltsin's closest confidantes, and the chairman of the Russia-Japan College.

This hardly proves the theory. But the cult's trip to the Yugosphere before their Australian outing flags up some interesting information—as does the fact that the CIA later discovered they'd been trying to buy nuclear warheads from the Russians.

It was reported by the New York Times in 1997 that a collective of Aum Shinrikyo members were sent to former Yugoslavia in 1992 to study the life and works of the seismic weapons expert, AC-current discoverer, scientist and lightning provocateur, Nikola Tesla. The cult members poured over Tesla's thesis and researched many of his electromagnetic weapon theories, possibly with the aim to learn how to create them and stockpile them for their own armoury.

Their interest in plasma, earthquake and weather altering weaponry became so serious that the U.S. Senate and Air Force slyly launched an investigation into the cult. As a representative of the International Tesla Society told the investigators: "Aum's interest focused on Tesla's experiments with resonating frequencies, in connection with artificially creating earthquakes." They also tried to get hold of patents to some of Tesla's inventions, contraptions that the man himself stated could "split the world in two".

Here’s Banjawan, site of Aum’s one-time “research facility”

After this, of course, the U.S. Senate and the CIA properly delved into the group's Australian antics. A full investigation was launched, the true evidence of which will probably never see the light of day unless someone like Wikileaks manages to unearth the secret documents. The whole thing then just conveniently drifted into the grey areas of tinfoil-hatted folklore.

So for now, at least, we're left with more questions than answers. Is Shoko Asahara still alive? Did his singular cult in fact create (and test!) something akin to Tesla's notorious death ray at an abandoned sheep station in the Australian outback? I don't know. But you just cannot make this stuff up. Join the dots with an open mind and, well, the whole awful thing is plausible. There is a distinct possibility that Aum Shinrikyo were the first, and so far the only people to have ever created and tested a non-government-sanctioned nuclear weapon.

Think about it. They have tens of thousands of members worldwide. They've had university trained physicists pop what were essentially giant nerve-agent balloons on Tokyo subways, killing more than a dozen and harming untold thousands of others, all to roadblock the hounds. They have around $1 billion in their bank account and have evident links with a once despotic government. If there was ever the perfect recipe for a cult procuring killer, earthquaking Tesla weaponry, this was surely it.

Here's hoping Japan's most notorious cult of fringe-science-loving terrorists don't follow through on sketchily-lain threats to wage battle against Mayan doomsday prophecies. Who knows, by the holidays Mt. Fuji, the site of one known Aum/Aleph commune, will maybe have blown its lava-dome to high Hell. And that goes for any chance of Shoko Asahara rising from the depths to wage war again as well, because no amount of doomsday prepping will protect anyone from a makeshift Tesla tractor beam tearing through your apocalypse shelter.

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