US revokes terrorist designation for Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult

The US State Department has dropped its designation of the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult as a Foreign Terrorist Organization or FTO.

The ministry announced the revocation Friday, saying the group “no longer engages in terrorism or terrorist activity” and does not retain “the ability and intent to do so.”

In 1995, Aum Shinrikyo staged a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, killing 14 people and injuring around 6,300 others. Two years later, the United States classified the group as an FTO under national law.

The Department of State reviews FTO designations every five years.

In 2018, former Aum leader Asahara Shoko and 12 others were executed for the subway attack as well as other heinous crimes.

In a statement, the State Department said the revocation did not seek to ignore or excuse any terrorist acts the group had previously engaged in or the harm it caused its victims. He says the latest decision recognizes the success Japan has had in defusing the terrorist threat posed by the group.

The department will keep Aum Shinrikyo on its list of global terrorist entities under an executive order and its assets in the country will be frozen.

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