JAPAN'S PROPHET OF POISON: Shoko Asahara

AFTER TOKYO SUFFERS A NERVE-GAS ATTACK, SUSPICION FOCUSES ON THE LEADER OF AN APOCALYPTIC CULT

The canaries went first. policemen in protective suits, ridiculous-looking things with gas detectors hanging out in front, bore the cages before them as they made their way grimly through the country road in the Mount Fuji foothills toward what looked to be a factory compound. It was 7 a.m. There were more than a thousand police; those who didn't wear protective suits watched the canaries closely. If the compound doors opened and the birds died, they would flee for their lives.

The birds lived. And day after day investigators raided the headquarters and hideaways of the suspect religious cult. Day after...