Rarely do you think Japan, when you hear of a terrorist attack in the news, but that sense of security was forever shaken for the Japanese when the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult carried out the Tokyo Subway Sarin Incident on March 20, 1995.
Founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984, the Aum Shinrikyo was legally recognized as a religious organization by the Japanese government in 1989. The group gained visibility in the media as well as many followers over the following years, and in 1992, Asahara declared that he was the new Christ. He developed a doomsday prophecy and convinced his followers that Armageddon was necessary for “human relief,” thus tipping the organization toward doomsday cult. The terrorist attacks followed.
On March 20, 1995, high-ranking members within Aum Shinrikyo attacked the Tokyo Metro at rush hour with sarin, a chemical nerve agent considered to be a weapon of mass destruction, killing twelve people, severely injuring 50, and temporarily affecting the vision of over 5,000 more. All in all, this became the most serious attack on Japan since WWII.
Though laypeople within Aum Shinrikyo were not aware of the group’s terrorist activities, many high-ranking members including Asahara were arrested and even sentenced to death. Today, however, the cult is still estimated to have around 2,000 members and is deemed a terrorist organization by several world governments.
True Russian Orthodox Church
This doomsday cult separated from the Russian Orthodox Church under the urging of its founder, Pyotr Kuznetsov, who wandered Russia warning people about the apocalypse and convinced his followers the world would end in May 2008. According to reports, he sleeps in a coffin.
In November 2007, Kuznetsov convinced around 30 members of the cult to hide away in a cave to prepare for the end of the world; they threatened to commit mass suicide if authorities tried to intervene. By this time, Kuznetsov had already been arrested. Over the course of the winter, several followers in the cave died, and others came out over the course of the following months seeking medical treatment. The final members stayed in the cave until May, and Kuznetsov attempted suicide after realizing his prophecy was wrong.
Born in Papua New Guinea in 1971, Steven Tari studied to become a Lutheran minister before abandoning the faith and proclaiming himself the Messiah in the mountains of the Gal people. He was later proclaimed an enemy of the church by Lutheran leaders.
Calling himself Black Jesus, Tari amassed some 6,000 followers in his cargo cult, promising them material goods in exchange for their worship… and their girls. Tari quickly became infamous for surrounding himself with young “flower girls” who were used for his sexual gratification as well as for the pleasure of other high-ranking cult leaders.
His power came crashing down in 2006 when Tari reportedly raped, murdered, and ate a 14-year-old flower girl with help from her mother. Jailed in 2005, Tari escaped and found more followers while hiding in remote villages. He then began ordering the destruction of Lutheran churches and had his followers carry out attacks on villages who wouldn’t support them.
Recaptured by villagers in 2007, Tari was taken in by authorities who found him guilty of four counts of rape. He escaped yet again, however, before he was killed by villagers in 2013 for allegedly murdering a woman. The villagers beat, tortured, castrated, and “chopped” him to death.