Aum’s activities have had a global impact on counterterrorism thinking. Its use
of chemical and biological weapons caught the attention of policy makers and
security forces globally, and Aum became a seminal influence on the way security
and government agencies, especially in the United States, conceptualized
the future of terrorism to be chemical, religious, and apocalyptic in nature.
Such perceptions conditioned counterterrorism policies in the years prior to
11 September 2001, and strategic studies specialists now debate whether this
led the usa in particular to underestimate threats from other more conventional
modes of terrorist violence. Even after 9/11, Aum continues to feature in
counterterrorism discourses and military training manuals, and continues to
represent, for security services and policy makers, the “public face” of chemical
and biologically oriented terrorism. This article examines these issues and
shows how the Aum Affair was not simply restricted to Japan but had a global
impact and profile.