plan was to spray a block of flats where the judges were sleeping with sarin. Seven persons were killed and more than 250 others were admitted to hospital with nerve-gas-induced symptoms. Though taken seriously ill, the judges survived. Incredible as it seems, a report previously issued by a special unit of the Tokyo metropolitan police department's criminal investigation laboratory pointing to the presence of the nerve gas reportedly went ignored -- despite repeated local complaints of strange odours emanating from the sect's nearby compound, alongside various unexplained disappearances of former Aum members and individuals who had attempted to investigate the sect's activities. Instead, the man who first reported the incident was branded as the culprit and accused of accidentally mixing some noxiously fatal concoction of weedkiller. 124 Finally, in a last spasm of activity designed to avert the governmental onslaught directed at Aum in the wake of the underground attacks, members of the sect attempted to stage a chemical attack using hydrogen cyanide -- more infamously known as Zyklon B, the same type of gas used by the Nazis at Auschwitz during the Second World War to murder tens of thousands of persons -- on 5 May, the national 'Children's Day' holiday.
On 15 December 1995 the Japanese prime minister, invoking a 1952 anti-subversion law, ordered Aum disbanded and seized all its assets. Asahara and his lieutenants are currently on trial in a Tokyo court. However, in recent months reports have surfaced that Aum is experiencing something of a revival in Japan. A hard core of at least 1,000 members -- including even some new recruits -- are said to be rebuilding the sect's profitable computer business and are engaged in various other commercial ventures, while continuing to worship their imprisoned leader. 125
The emergence of obscure, idiosyncratic millenarian movements, zealously nationalist religious groups, and militantly anti-government, far-right paramilitary organizations arguably represents a different and potentially far more lethal threat than traditional terrorist adversaries; certainly a far more amorphous and diffuse one. The members of the Aum sect in Japan, the fanatical Jewish groups in Israel, the Christian Patriots in America and some of the radical Islamic organizations active