A TV grab shows Shoko Asahara, real name Chizuo Matsumoto on October 31, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan

Police in Russia have raided 25 homes and shrines in Moscow and St Petersburg and arrested people linked to the notorious Aum Shinrikyo cult.

The group gained infamy when it launched a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the subway in the Japanese capital Tokyo, which killed 13 people and left thousands suffering from its debilitating consequences.

The cult’s leader Shoko Asahara along with 12 of his followers got death sentences and it was thought to have gone to ground. However, after the arrests in Russia of 10 people, plus 44 Russians in Montenegro being investigated over links to the group, questions are being raised as to why they have resurfaced in Europe.

How did it start?

Its founder is Chizuo Matsumoto, who was born in 1955 into an impoverished family in the south of Japan. Glaucoma robbed him of his sight in one eye and he was partially blind in the other.

A 2011 report carried out by the US-based Centre for a New American Security (CNAS) reported how Matsumoto became an acupuncturist in the city of Kumamoto, but moved to Tokyo in 1977 to further his education.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offers flowers to victims of the sarin poison gas attack on March 20, 2015, on the 20th anniversary of the incidentReuters

He developed an interest in New Age religions and turned to yoga, mysticism, Buddhist texts and the writings of Nostradamus. He opened a yoga school in Tokyo in 1984 called Aum Inc where he lectured how he was a source of spiritual power.

By 1985, he would make public pronouncements that he was a sacred warrior charged with saving the world and how he would restore “original Buddhism” to the world. He changed the group’s name to Aum Shinsen no Kai which means “Aum Mountain Wizards”.

CNAS reported how Matsumoto would use the theme of Armageddon to urge people to join his organisation which he said needed to acquire at least 30,000 members. In July 1987, he changed the name again, this time to Aum Shinrikyo (Aum Teaching of Truth) and he himself took on the moniker of Shoko Asahara.

The Wicked Shall Perish: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). A double enunciation of the truth is couched in this short text. It is that eternal life is to be obtained only through Christ, and that all who do not thus obtain it will eventually perish. John testifies further on the same point in his first epistle (1 John 5:11): “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” From which it follows, as a most natural consequence, that “he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

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Written by TCE Global News