July 20, 2011

Aum Shinrikyo: Insights Into How Terrorists Develop Biological and Chemical Weapons

In 1995, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo unleashed terror on the Tokyo subway system with a highly publicized sarin gas attack. However, less is known about the group’s development of biological and chemical weapons and about their prior attacks using these weapons.

The CNAS report, Aum Shinrikyo: Insights Into How Terrorists Develop Biological and Chemical Weapons, culminates a multi-year project led by Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and Chairman of the CNAS Board of Directors; with Marc Sageman, Advisor to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army on the Insider Threat; Terrance Leighton, Senior Staff Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and Chief Scientist at Science Applications International Corporation; Lloyd Hough, Senior Research Scientist at Battelle in International Technology Assessments; Zachary Hosford, Research Associate at CNAS; and two Japanese colleagues investigating these issues. Through personal interviews and correspondence with former members of Aum Shinrikyo’s leadership, the report provides never-before documented information on the terrorist group and its operations. The observations from this study have wide-ranging applications for terrorist groups worldwide.


  • Hidemi Yuki

  • Lloyd Hough

  • Marc Sageman

  • Richard Danzig

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Senior Advisor, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

    Richard Danzig’s primary activities in recent years have been as a consultant to U.S. Intelligence Agencies and the Department of Defense on national security issues. He is a ...

  • Rui Kotani

  • Terrance Leighton