Is it safe to say that you have a tabloid view of cults? In the context of a "history" forum "cults" might not be your best option for a topic, although it is always a fasinating one. You're absolutely correct with your statement that "acceptance" is the most frequent desire used to recruit and train or brainwash new members. It is very powerful especially when the newbie has been cut-off from their past life, family and friends.
Now beyond the blood and spatter tabloid cults REAL cults are often very well structured, have plenty of money and own property. They can be tied into government from the local to the federal levals. Often these folks hold jobs as dispatchers, clerical staff, maintainance workers,and they will have access to documents and computers.
Just how many wars throughout history have been fought by enemy combatants of the same faith?
Heres a thought... history has documented perhaps thousands of "cult leaders" throughout the world since the written word. Most of us have never heard of these people because they were vanilla when compared to Jimmy Jones or Joseph Smith. But I will name two cult leaders that EVERYONE has heard of...Charlie Manson and Jesus Christ.