This Day In History: 11/18/1978 - Mass Suicide in Jonestown

This Day In History: 11/18/1978 - Mass Suicide in Jonestown



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This This Day in History video explains what occurred on November 18 throughout history. On November 18, 1820, the seal hunter Nathaniel Palmer and his crew became the first Americans to visit Antarctica. On November 18, 1883, the United States and Canadian Railroads established the five standard time zones for the continent. This stopped the confusion of having so many different time zones. On November 18, 1963, the Bell Telephone Company unveiled the first ever push button telephone. Lastly, on November 18, 1991, Terry Waite was released by his kidnappers in Lebanon. Waite spent five years in captivity, four of them being in solitary confinement.


Deaths in History in 1978

    Kurt Gödel, Austrian-American mathematician (Gödel's incompleteness theorems), dies at 71 Margaret Bowman & Janet Levy, Chi Omega, FSU, killed by Ted Bundy Virginia Pope, American fashion editor (New York Times), dies at 92 Hasan Askari, Pakistani philosopher, critic and writer, dies at 58 Walter H. Thompson, English Scotland Yard detective, bodyguard of Winston Churchill (b. 1890) Freda Utley, British scholar and author. (b. 1898) Oliver Leese, British World War II general, dies at 83 Herta Oberheuser, German doctor (b. 1911) Bergen Evans, American professor of English ($64,000 Question), dies at 73 Annie [Anna HM] Romein-Verschoor, Dutch historian (Omzien), dies at 83

Aldo Moro

May 9 Aldo Moro, Five times Prime Minister of Italy, assassinated by the Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization Red Brigades at 61

    John Clinge Doorenbos, Dutch journalist & poet, dies at 93 Bill Lear, American engineer, manufacturer and CEO (Lear Jet Corp), dies at 75

Robert Menzies

May 15 Robert Menzies, 12th Prime Minister of Australia (1939-41, 1949-66) and its longest-serving, dies of a heart attack at 83

    John Selwyn Brooke Selwyn Lloyd, speaker of house of commons, dies Selwyn Lloyd, British statesman involved in Suez crisis, dies at 73 Jo Spier [Joseph Spier], Dutch cartoonist and water color painter, dies at 77 Jorge de Sena, Portuguese novelist and poet (Reino da Estupidez), dies at 58 John Meulenhoff, Dutch publisher, dies at 71 Ronald George Wreyford Norrish, British chemist, Nobel Prize laureate 1967, dies at 80 Guo Moruo, Chinese scholar and writer, dies at 85 Anton Roosjen, Dutch politician and NCRV-chairman, dies at 83 Walter C. Alvarez, American physician (b. 1884) Robert Charroux, French writer (b. 1909) Hussein al-Ghasjmi, president of North-Yemen, murdered Rabbaji, president of South-Yemen, executed Clifford Dupont, First President of Rhodesia (b. 1905)

Paul VI

Aug 6 Pope Paul VI [Giovanni Montini], 262nd Roman Catholic pope (1963-78), dies of a heart attack at 80

    James Gould Cozzens, American novelist (1949 Pulitzer-Guard of Honor), dies at 74 Johan Daisne [Thiery], Belgian writer (Lago Maggiore), dies at 66 Nicolas Bentley, British writer and illustrator, dies at 71 Alidius WL Tjarda van Stachouwer, gov-gen of Neth Indies, dies at 90 Charles Eames, American designer and architect, dies at 71 Ignazio Silone, Italian novelist (Fontamara, Pane e vino), dies at 78

Jomo Kenyatta

Aug 22 Jomo Kenyatta, 1st Prime Minister of Kenya (1963-78), dies at 83

    Bruce Catton, American historian and writer (Civil War), dies at 78 F. Van Wyck Mason, American historian and author (Three Harbours), dies at 76 John Wrathall, President of Rhodesia (b. 1913) Jack L Warner [Jacob Warner], Canadian-American film executive and president of the Warner Bros. Studios, dies at 86 Hugh MacDiarmid, Scottish poet (b. 1892) Georgi Markov, Bulgarian dissident (b. 1929) Janet Parker, English medical photographer, the last person to die of smallpox, dies at 40 Willy Messerschmitt, German aircraft builder, dies at 80 Robert Cliche, French Canadian politician and judge (b. 1921) Rolf Gunther, East German priest, self imolation

Margaret Mead

Nov 15 Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (Coming of Age in Samoa, Thoughts & Female), dies of pancreatic cancer at 76


Discover the history behind the 1978 Jonestown massacre

In November 1978 the world was shocked by the mass murder-suicide of more than 900 members of the California-based Peoples Temple cult. Members of its Jonestown commune in Guyana drank cyanide-laced fruit drink after being ordered to do so by their cult leader, Jim Jones. Encyclopædia Britannica presents some key points on the Jonestown massacre.

Despite having no religious affiliation or theological training, Jim Jones opened his first church in Indianapolis in the 1950s. By the 1960s he and his wife had moved their base of operations to California, and Jim Jones became affiliated with and ordained in the Disciples of Christ, a group of Protestant churches. Jones claimed to have both mind-reading and faith-healing abilities.

Though the Peoples Temple presented itself as humanitarian, members of the church were not treated humanely. They were often blackmailed, humiliated, and beaten. Many were brainwashed or coerced into signing over their homes and possessions to Jim Jones and the church. Black members of the church were convinced by Jones that they would be sent to concentration camps if they ever left.

When members of the press began asking questions in 1977, Jim Jones moved hundreds of his congregation to South America—to Jonestown, a compound in Guyana that he had been constructing for several years.

In 1978 Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to Jonestown to investigate rumors that members were being held against their will and were being subjected to psychological and physical abuse. Several members of the Peoples Temple wanted to return to the United States with Ryan, but they were attacked by members of the cult at the airstrip as they were attempting to depart. Ryan and four others were killed, and 11 others were wounded.

After the shooting, Jones ordered a “revolutionary suicide” at the compound. A fruit drink laced with sedatives, tranquilizers, and cyanide was handed out, first given to babies and children and then ingested by the adult members. In all, 918 people died that day, 304 of them under the age of 18. Jones himself died of a gunshot wound. Fewer than 100 of the Temple members in Guyana survived the massacre.


7. Jauhar Suicides

The Rajput ceremony of Jauhar, 1567, as depicted by Ambrose Dudley in Hutchinsons History of the Nations, c.1910. Image credit: Ambrose Dudley (1867–1951) United States public domain

Jauhar is an act of suicide performed by women for political or religious reasons. To avoid war crimes such as enslavement and rape, they were forced to commit suicide, sometimes even taking their children with them.

These mass suicides happened all over the Indian subcontinent, and the most famous ones are those during the wars in Rajasthan, in 1303, 1535, and 1568 CE.


This Day In History: Mass Suicide At Jonestown (1978)

Sa araw na ito sa kasaysayan, nagkaroon ng malawakang pagpapakamatay sa maliit na bansang Latin American ng Guyana. Ang mga namatay ay pawang mga miyembro ng People's Temple, isang kultong Kristiyano. Sa kabuuan, 909 katao ang pumatay sa kanilang sarili sa araw na iyon, marami sa mga namatay ay bata. Mayroong ilang pagtatalo kung ang lahat ng mga namatay, nagpakamatay dahil sa kanilang sariling malayang kalooban, o napilitan silang magpakamatay. Tila na marami sa mga namatay ay naipapatay ng kanilang mga kapwa miyembro ng kulto.

Itinatag ni Jim Jones ang kulto sa Indianapolis. Ito ay isang sektang Kristiyano at ito ay hindi bababa sa una ay isang progresibong kilusan na nag-krus laban sa rasismo at kawalan ng katarungan sa lipunan. Noong 1965 ang pangkat ay lumipat sa Hilagang California at nakakaakit ito ng maraming mga bagong miyembro, lalo na mula sa pamayanan ng Africa-American. Maya-maya ay lumipat ang Simbahan sa Utah, ngunit inakusahan ito ng media at ng ilang mga pulitiko ng pandaraya sa pananalapi at pang-aabuso sa katawan ng ilang mga miyembro. Si Jim Jones ay naging lalong paranoid at nagpasya siyang ilipat ang kanyang kulto sa Guyana kung saan magtatatag sila ng isang pang-agrikultura. Itinatag ng Simbahan ang 'Jonestown' sa isang liblib na lugar ng Guyana. Nais ni Jones na ang lahat ng mga miyembro ng Simbahan ay manirahan sa isang pamayanan na na-modelo sa mga prinsipyong sosyalista at Kristiyano.

Ipinangako ni Jones sa kanyang mga tagasunod ang Lupang Pangako, ngunit hindi ito naging ganoon. Kapag ang mga miyembro ay dumating sa komyunidad kailangan nilang magtrabaho ng maraming oras sa bukid at hindi nila maaaring kwestyunin ang mga desisyon ni Jones. Pinamunuan ni Jones ang komyun sa pamamagitan ng takot at hinimok ang mga miyembro na tuligsain ang bawat isa. Sa oras na ito si Jones ay isang walang pag-asa na gumon sa droga at ang kanyang kalusugan sa isip ay tumanggi. Sa mga pagpupulong sa gabi, mahihimok niya ang mga miyembro na kumuha ng mock pills ng pagpapakamatay upang ipakita ang kanilang katapatan. Narinig ng gobyerno ng Estados Unidos ang mga aktibidad ni Jones at nagsimulang siyasatin siya at ang kanyang Simbahan.

Noong 1978, ang ilang dating miyembro ng Temple at isang US Congressman, si Leo Ryan ay naglakbay sa Jonestown upang siyasatin ang mga paghahabol na ang mga tao ay nakakulong na labag sa kanilang kagustuhan. Naging maayos ang pagdalaw at ang mga ugnayan sa pagitan ng mga bisita at Jones ay magiliw at magiliw. Pagkatapos ng pag-alis ni Ryan at ng kanyang partido ay nilapitan ng ilang mga kasapi na nais na umalis. Pumayag si Ryan na pwede na silang umalis. Nagalit ito kay Jones at kalaunan ay inutos niya na ambush sina Ryan at ang kanyang partido. Habang si Ryan at ang kanyang pangkat ay nakasakay sa isang chartered plane inatake sila at pinatay ang Kongresista at apat na kasama.

Bumalik sa Jonestown, ang mga miyembro ng Simbahan ay inatasan na magtipun-tipon sa pangunahing plaza at dito sila hinimok na magpakamatay. Tinanong sila o sinenyasan na uminom ng isang malakas na halo ng cyanide at fruit juice. Ang mga bata ay ibinuhos ng gayuma ang kanilang lalamunan gamit ang isang hiringgilya. Ang lahat ng ito ay nangyari sa ilalim ng pangangasiwa ni Jones at ng kanyang mga armadong guwardya. Sa loob ng mga oras mahigit 900 ang namatay, kasama si Jones. Maaaring binaril siya ng isa sa kanyang mga bantay. Ang ilang mga miyembro ng templo ay nagawang makatakas kasama ang mga sariling anak na lalaki ni Jones.


November 18, 1978 – Mass suicide at Jonestown

On November 18, 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones leads hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide at their agricultural commune in a remote part of the South American nation of Guyana.

Many of Jones’ followers willingly ingested a poison-laced punch while others were forced to do so at gunpoint. The final death toll at Jonestown that day was 909 a third of those who perished were children.

Jim Jones was a charismatic churchman who established the Peoples Temple, a Christian sect, in Indianapolis in the 1950s.

He preached against racism, and his integrated congregation attracted many African Americans. In 1965, he moved the group to Northern California, settling in Ukiah and after 1971 in San Francisco.

In the 1970s, his church was accused by the media of financial fraud, physical abuse of its members and mistreatment of children. In response to the mounting criticism, the increasingly paranoid Jones invited his congregation to move with him to Guyana, where he promised they would build a socialist utopia.

Three years earlier, a small group of his followers had traveled to the tiny nation to set up what would become Jonestown on a tract of jungle.

Jonestown did not turn out to be the paradise their leader had promised. Temple members worked long days in the fields and were subjected to harsh punishments if they questioned Jones’ authority.

Their passports were confiscated, their letters home censored and members were encouraged to inform on one another and forced to attend lengthy, late-night meetings.

Jones, by then in declining mental health and addicted to drugs, was convinced the U.S. government and others were out to destroy him. He required Temple members to participate in mock suicide drills in the middle of the night.

In 1978, a group of former Temple members and concerned relatives of current members convinced U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, a Democrat of California, to travel to Jonestown and investigate the settlement.

On November 17, 1978, Ryan arrived in Jonestown with a group of journalists and other observers. At first the visit went well, but the next day, as Ryan’s delegation was about to leave, several Jonestown residents approached the group and asked them for passage out of Guyana.

Jones became distressed at the defection of his followers, and one of Jones’ lieutenants attacked Ryan with a knife. The congressman escaped from the incident unharmed, but Jones then ordered Ryan and his companions ambushed and killed at the airstrip as they attempted to leave. The congressman and four others were murdered as they boarded their charter planes.

Back in Jonestown, Jones commanded everyone to gather in the main pavilion and commit what he termed a “revolutionary act.”

The youngest members of the Peoples Temple were the first to die, as parents and nurses used syringes to drop a potent mix of cyanide, sedatives and powdered fruit juice into children’s throats. Adults then lined up to drink the poison-laced concoction while armed guards surrounded the pavilion.

When Guyanese officials arrived at the Jonestown compound the next day, they found it carpeted with hundreds of bodies. Many people had perished with their arms around each other.

A few residents managed to escape into the jungle as the suicides took place, while at least several dozen more Peoples Temple members, including several of Jones’ sons, survived because they were in another part of Guyana at the time.


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Jonestown

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Jonestown, (November 18, 1978), location of the mass murder-suicide of members of the California-based Peoples Temple cult at the behest of their charismatic but paranoid leader, Jim Jones, in Jonestown agricultural commune, Guyana. The death toll exceeded 900, including some 300 who were age 17 and under, making the incident one of the largest mass deaths in American history.

What was Jonestown?

Jonestown was a remote compound in Guyana built by Peoples Temple cult leader Jim Jones. With little interference from the Guyanese government, Jonestown was a virtually autonomous settlement.

What was the Jonestown massacre?

The Jonestown massacre was a mass murder-suicide of the Peoples Temple cult at the behest of their leader, Jim Jones, in 1978. After cult members attacked Congressman Leo Ryan, who was investigating the cult, Jones enacted a suicide plan at the Jonestown compound. A fruit drink laced with cyanide was given to children and adult members, killing more than 900 people. Jones died of a gunshot wound.

How many people died in the Jonestown massacre?

More than 900 people died in the Jonestown massacre, including some 300 who were age 17 or under. It is one of the largest mass deaths in American history.

Who was Jim Jones?

Jim Jones was the leader of the Peoples Temple cult who initiated a mass murder-suicide at the Jonestown compound in Guyana. He opened his first church in Indianapolis in the 1950s before relocating to California in the mid-1960s. Jones attracted thousands of followers, whom he regularly abused, blackmailed, and coerced into signing over property to the church.

When did the Jonestown massacre occur?

Jim Jones orchestrated the mass murder-suicide of Peoples Temple cult members on November 18, 1978.

Jones opened his first church in the mid-1950s in Indianapolis. At the time he was not affiliated with any particular denomination and had no theological training. His congregation was known for being racially integrated, which was particularly progressive at the time (Jones himself was white). In 1960 Jones’s congregation, by then called the Peoples Temple, affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, and four years later Jones was ordained in that church. In the mid-1960s he and his wife incorporated the Peoples Temple in California and settled outside the town of Ukiah with some 100 followers, believing that the move would protect them in the event of nuclear holocaust. In 1970 Jones began holding services in San Francisco, and by 1972 he had opened another temple in Los Angeles. He began to make friends among politicians and the press in California and became a respected churchman. Thousands of followers, a large percentage of them African American, flocked to him central to Jones’s appeal were his displays of mind reading and faith healing.

While the Peoples Temple was active in humanitarian causes in its communities, Jones’s treatment of his followers was often less than humane. Temple members were regularly humiliated, beaten, and blackmailed, and many were coerced or brainwashed into signing over their possessions—including their homes—to the church. Black members and members of other minority groups were convinced that if they left the Peoples Temple they would be rounded up into government-run concentration camps. Family members were kept apart and encouraged to inform on one another. In 1977, after members of the press began to ask questions about Jones’s operation, he moved with several hundred of his followers to Jonestown, a compound that he had been building in Guyana for some three to four years.

A cable from the U.S. Embassy in Guyana to the U.S. Department of State in June 1978 characterized the autonomy that Jones subsequently found in Guyana this way:

During the consular visits it has been observed that the local Guyanese administration exercises little or no control over the Jonestown community, and that the settlement’s autonomy seems virtually total. This is due to a variety of reasons which include the fact that the area in question is remote and thus the government’s rather primitive administrative machinery is already overstrained by its obligations to the Guyanese citizens living in the region, as well as an understandable disinterest on the part of the local officials to bother with an apparently self-sufficient community of non-Guyanese who obviously are not actively seeking any extensive contact with the Guyanese environment in which their settlement is located.

What we have, therefore, is a community of American citizens existing as a self-contained and self-governing unit in a foreign land and which, for all intents and purposes, is furnishing to the residents all of the community services such as civil administration, police and fire protection, education, health care, etc., normally provided by a central government within its territory.


Jim Jones

Jim Jones, US pastor, leader of Jonestown Cult, commits suicide at 47

  • Lennie Tristano, American jazz pianist (The New Tristano), dies of a heart attack at 59
  • Leo J Ryan, (Rep-Cal) & 4 killed in Jonestown, Guyana by members of Peoples Temple, followed by ritual mass suicide of 914 members
  • Leo Ryan, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California), assassinated at 53 in Jonestown, Guyana

Jonestown, the CIA and the Mystery Tape

A mysterious tape (labeled as Q 875) was allegedly found at Jonestown by the FBI. What makes this tape so very mysterious is that it was made after the deaths, as proven by the radio broadcasts playing in the background. For several years, folks have thrown out lots of ideas in an attempt to explain this tape. I believe that for some, my explanation of the tape will answer lots of questions.

I believe the mystery tape is important physical evidence left by a medical team under the control of the CIA, whose role was to inject all of the bodies between the shoulder blades, a location preselected because it is the only place on the body that humans cannot inject themselves. A leader on the CIA medical team was likely charged with monitoring the media as events unfolded. He attempted to record the press coverage off of a radio at Jonestown. Then, due to a hurried operation, the tape was left behind. This was not a big blunder, in a way, because there is nothing much on the tape. The only real oversight in leaving the tape is that the tape was made in Jonestown after the mass deaths, thus begging the question “by whom?”

There is adequate evidence that the CIA had been monitoring Jonestown before the mass suicides. Members of Green Berets who were there confirm that the plan was to go in and kill any survivors. This was necessary in order to execute a bigger plan, which was to inject all the bodies in a way that would make it look like mass murder. This plan did not fit into reality very well, however, since survivors popped up who had watched the suicides from the jungle and reported how people hugged and kissed before voluntarily killing themselves. This forced the CIA to backtrack quickly.

Whether or not there was a real necessity for the population of Jonestown to have it put upon them to commit suicide to show their commitment to Liberation Theology is really not the question. For the CIA the question was, “How do we stop Jim Jones from making a social statement on behalf of Liberation Theology and the Left?” After the bodies were all injected, they had a new problem. Reports from eyewitnesses (such as Stanley Clayton, who had watched from the jungle) and reports of a “death tape” recorded at the time of the mass suicide threatened to blow their cover.

The CIA now had to keep their first plan from backfiring on them. Guyana Coroner Leslie Mootoo’s first official report on the Jonestown deaths said there were needle marks between the shoulder blades on virtually all of the bodies found there. According one Jonestown survivor who assisted the coroner in early identifications, “Mootoo did not seem like the kind of man who would be easily intimidated, but something really scared him. He said that someone made him change his story.” It was obviously the CIA that pressured Dr. Mootoo into changing his report. He altered the report to say that only a few people were injected, thus making the information fit the death tape, witnesses’ accounts, etc. This later report is what became the “Official Report” for the press and for history.

According to Charles Huff, one of the Green Berets in charge of the operation at Jonestown, sixteen highly trained soldiers who participated in and witnessed the operation all died, and all their deaths were called suicide. This too shows there was a major cover-up involved. For some reason, these sixteen people knew too much. But they did not commit suicide. Leading psychologists say that it is not a normal response for rescue workers who have gone in to save drowning victims to feel like drowning themselves too. In addition, it is against everything they have been trained to do.

In my unique search for the truth regarding what really happened at Jonestown for my upcoming book The Jonestown Legacy, I was fortunate to interview one of the Green Berets who landed there shortly after the Jonestown suicides. For the purposes of the book he asked me to call him Scott Hooker, explaining that this name will identify him to the other soldiers who were there. He told me how he pulled Jones’ dead body out of his chair and how haunting his hazel-colored eyes were, as they seemed to stare into space. Most shocking of all, he told me in detail how the Green Berets were under instructions to kill the survivors. This was the same story told by Lt. Col. James “Bo” Gritz, the commander in charge of all the Green Berets in Latin and South America at that time. Gritz said openly that he did not know too much beyond the fact that it was the Green Berets’ mission to go in and kill survivors. He said this is because it was a compartmentalized CIA operation.

Gritz also reported afterward that the man in charge of the operation returned and said, “The niggers are all dead.” In ways Gritz is a press-hungry and egotistical character. The most decorated soldier in Vietnam, he now makes it as a celebrity of sorts. He was on the news while negotiating a peaceful settlement between the police and white separatist Randy Weaver. Gritz was also caught on TV giving the Nazi salute to skinheads as he left a building where negotiations were going on in a standoff between right-wing extremists and the police.

Stanley Clayton and both of the Temple attorneys who fled Jonestown all reported hearing bursts of automatic machine-gun fire – and even three cheers by the soldiers – after their mission was accomplished and the survivors who remained were killed. Since there had been no automatic weapons in Jonestown, the bodies of those who were shot by the Green Berets had to be removed via helicopter and dropped into the jungle.

Scott Hooker told me that as their helicopter was landing, survivors were waving to be rescued. However the Green Berets were ordered to shoot them dead. Scott described the blood misting into a red cloud around the first man he shot – with his automatic weapon – upon exiting the helicopter. He emphasized that the Green Berets were under orders to turn over the dead bodies in search of explosives before the CIA medical team took over. This is further proof that the CIA has been monitoring Jonestown, because as one survivor remembers, Jones publicly announced the idea or threat of putting explosives on their bodies before committing suicide as a sort of booby trap for the enemy.

In 1978 it was the CIA’s job to represent the Radical Right in the destruction of the Radical Left. The Cold War was at its height. Bo Gritz was quoted as saying that Jones had become “very politically connected.” After leaving the United States, Jones was attempting to transform his followers from the peace and love of Jesus to the by-any-means-necessary and change-only-comes-out-of-the-barrel-of-a-gun philosophies of more violent leaders such as Mao Tse-Tung and Malcolm X. Ironically, Peoples Temple had been founded as a passivist and humanitarian group that denounced violence, dictatorship and totalitarian government. But over the years, Jones’ drug-induced psychosis mounted. He became very passive-aggressive and was dreaming and scheming in his war against the Right Wing, capitalism and the CIA – just as the CIA schemed to demonize both him and Liberation Theology.

We know this: On that day the Radical Right enjoyed the destruction of the Radical Left. In his megalomaniacal desire to go down in history, Jim Jones did the work for them. He did not realize he was doing the Radical Right a favor. He actually believed that this ridiculous plan would be seen internationally as a meaningful and virtuous protest. In Buddhist societies, both individual and group suicides have been seen as effective protests, but it simply did not work in American society.

My friend Tim Carter has told me that a sound on the tape which is very similar to the slamming of a screen door leads him to believe the Q875 tape could have been made in Port Kaituma. However, he also admitted to me that this sound could be any number of other things, such as a cabinet door or the sound of closing a piece of portable gear, and that, indeed, the tape could have been made other places, including Jonestown. Loud jungle birds are clearly audible in the background on the tape. Trees for such jungle birds did not exist near the Temple’s Georgetown headquarters at Lamaha Gardens. At Port Kaituma there were trees but nothing else much more than a bar. Finally, the FBI had reason to be in Jonestown, because the suicides there made it a crime scene. The Temple headquarters in Georgetown was also a crime scene because Sharon Amos and her children died there.

The protocol used by the FBI in categorizing evidence and using evidence bags is very scientific. The FBI is made up of extensively trained people with college educations. Considering the evidence, I believe the tape was made in Jonestown, found in Jonestown by the FBI, properly labeled and entered into evidence.

I hired an international transcriber for a major Maharaja to listen to the mystery tape over and over with her professional transcription equipment and to transcribe it. Because of the broad difference in what people have been hearing on the tape, it was very important to me to get an experienced and objective transcriptionist with high-dollar equipment. This transcriptionist has been doing tape transcription on the average of five days a week for most of the past thirty years. She has transcribed not only for a spiritual teacher with a decided Hindi accent, but various and sundry recordings with different dialects, accents and background noises for top institutions, including the University of California San Diego. When given this tape to transcribe, she was not told what to listen for.

Her objectivity was very important to me, because other people were reading things into the tape that were not there. Sometimes the mind, especially in a state of paranoia or fear – such as surrounds the entire Jonestown phenomena – can project what it wants to hear (or thinks it will hear). The right-wingers or the Jones demonizers for instance were sure that they heard Jones’ voice on the tape – implying that he was alive after all the other people were dead. This is not true. The voice of Jones is absolutely nowhere to be found on the tape.

One of the most interesting things that this professional transcriptionist heard was a man’s voice saying, “I’ll meet you on the way out.” Among other interesting things did hear was the word “triage” amongst an array of professional-sounding voices going about a busy job. Someone said “Sue,” after which someone else says, “Shut up.”

I was so intrigued by her results that I borrowed one of her professional transcription machines, which allowed me to toy with the pitch on the tape to experiment with both speed and tone. After this I gave the tape to a professional soundman. He recorded it onto the computer as a waveform and phase-shifted it and messed with various sound effects from hiss removal to vocal removal. We took waveform photos of each interesting section with numbers referencing each increment. This means that anyone can listen to the same pieces and email them back and forth.

Both the CIA and FBI must have found Peoples Temple interesting. In histories of Peoples Temple told to date, little mention is made that this church was one of history’s best examples of Liberation Theology. Peoples Temple must have been the only church in America where the members raised their collective fists and sang the Russian National Anthem during church services.

Was Jim Jones a CIA agent? No, he was not. In The Jonestown Legacy, I reveal information about Jones’ high IQ as a copyist (or copycat). I explain in detail about how he copied cult tactics used in the larger society that folk normally think is okay. Jim Jones excelled in politics and believed in being a double agent in general. He believed in playing the CIA for a fool. He believed in playing the FBI for a fool. He believed in playing the President of the United States for a fool. Etcetera. He studied the beliefs and tactics of individual politicians, told them what they wanted to hear and worked his way into their confidence. He told Democrats he was a Democrat he told Republicans he was a Republican. Behind their backs he made fun of them all. Boy, did he make fun of them. Letters were written to politicians just to get back letters of approval. Jones knew how to court the enemy. He also seemed to specialize in blackmailing the enemy. I can assure you that women were sent to compromise local politicians, including CIA agent and embassy chief Richard Dwyer there in Guyana.

Jones courted both the Left and the Right, because they were both powerful groups. He loved to play them for fools in front of the whole church. I remember once when a political guest speaker was addressing the crowd from the pulpit in LA, and Jones came up behind him and gave him devil horns with his two fingers behind the man’s head. The crowd roared with laughter, and the poor speaker could not figure out what he had said that was so funny. It is not that the crowd was mean-spirited. Jones had created an “us versus them” mentality and openly mocked the enemy.

In those end days, when Jones thought he was playing the CIA for a fool, he tried to keep tight control over Dwyer, but he did not have a deal with the CIA to kill all the people as some right-wing slander has suggested. He simply tried to go down in history with a mass protest suicide. When the Special Forces went in to look for explosives on the bodies, it was because the CIA did not know what to expect next. In true Jonesian fashion, Jones had given them a variety of scenarios and they were not clued in.

Since the first call made out of Jonestown on the day of those tragic deaths was on a CIA channel, we know the CIA was standing close by. How close? Was there a CIA agent living at Jonestown? Certainly Dwyer was an agent of the CIA. He was identified in the 1968 edition of Who’s Who in the CIA, he was the representative in charge of the embassy – the CIA station agent in the area – and he was there. Did Dwyer have a way of notifying the CIA that the suicide was occurring at that time? Were there bugging devices in the surrounding jungle? A month after the suicides, the San Mateo Times, a Bay Area newspaper, reported that State Department officials acknowledged that a CIA agent was dispatched to Jonestown within minutes of the airstrip assault. It is immaterial whether Dwyer was at the airstrip, just leaving Jonestown, or if he made his way back. We know that on the “death tape” Jones is heard saying, “Get Dwyer out of here.” What matters is that we understand that Jones had a deal with Dwyer for Dwyer to get out alive. This was typical of Jones’ politics. He got some blackmail on Dwyer, got Dwyer to play along and assured him that he would get him out so that Dwyer would not be involved.

This does not mean that Jones worked for the CIA. It speaks to the fact that Jones had a huge ego and thought that he could control everyone in the situation. In the end, he actually did. He even forced the Green Berets to come into the camp. Because Peoples Temple was so politically connected, they would not have come into the camp had there not been the initiation of violence against a U.S. Congressman.

The true story of what happened at Jonestown is a unique game of double agents where the Right pretend to be on the Left and the Left pretend to be on the Right – and the CIA attempts to control both.

To tell you the truth, you cannot train someone to control others the way Jim Jones did. The CIA must have been very curious as to what they could learn from him in the way of mind control. Because Jones was so good at manipulating and controlling people, we must also believe that the CIA were intensely interested in observing what he would do next. The fact that Jones did not work for the CIA does not mean that the agency was not interested in learning from this eccentric but very effective leader. The average CIA agent does not have great abilities, and many CIA ventures have been followed by failings or blow-back that has been very embarrassing to the agency. Truly, Jones must have been keenly studied as an individual who could control others psychologically. It is certain that the CIA saw him as a great curiosity. However, he was also their enemy.

Though he perceived himself as the world’s greatest strategist, Jones had several flaws that left him wide open to the CIA. He suppressed people in his own group, insomuch as no one else was allowed to be “great.” Everyone was put down so that only he could be great. This explains why even while Peoples Temple members were sometimes taught to cut the legs out from under one another and not to trust people outside their group, Jones would publicly uplift celebrities whom he had befriended – to make himself look great. He wanted to look like a celebrity, and rubbing elbows with celebrities was part of how he attempted to achieve this goal.

The Left and the Right are always tricking each other. In the end that is why Republicans wind up being conservatives who do not conserve anything and Democrats wind up being liberals who don’t liberate anything (which is why I like to call them Remocrats and Depublicans), because it is a very deceptive game.

A lawyer working for Jones in Jonestown named Mark Lane postured himself as a left-winger and someone who believed in Jones’ version of Apostolic Socialism. He also wrote a book about Jonestown called The Strongest Poison. Was Mark Lane an opportunist lawyer whose book stretched the truth and omitted important information? That is what the reviewers say. I am not saying that. Could he be an actual tool of the CIA as he makes his living appearing to attack them? I am not saying that Mark Lane is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. However I will tell you this: Mark Lane walked out of Jonestown that fateful day and later became the lawyer for the very same people in charge of killing the Jonestown survivors – Bo Gritz and the Liberty Lobby and Company. Gritz is an avowed right-winger who postures himself to be against big government, military profiteering, CIA involvement with drugs and other left-wing issues. Gritz and the Liberty Lobby are both anti-Jew pro-Hitler advocates of revisionist attempts to rewrite history and say that the Holocaust was not so bad or maybe did not really occur at all. It is a great irony that Mark Lane himself is Jewish. This subject matter is not short on ironies. Gritz, possibly envious of the Jonestown he was partly in charge of destroying, later started a community of right-wing survivalists he named “Almost Heaven.”

It would be ridiculous to not assume that the CIA is behind certain celebrities, just as it is behind some best-selling books and Hollywood movies to spread disinformation and misinformation in with the truth. For instance, right-wing celebrities began spreading lies about Jonestown being a CIA mind control experiment while telling easily-disprovable lies, such as claims that “the citizens of Jonestown were originally taken there bound and gagged.” This kind of disinformation muddied the water and helped to create a fanfare of conspiracy theories that has helped cloak the real story of the CIA involvement.

For people who do not know me and have never read my articles 25 Years Hiding from a Dead Man or Sex in Peoples Temple on this website, it may be important to speak to the issue of credibility. I was the original pastor of the Los Angeles Peoples Temple under Jim Jones for about five years. I was the only associate whom Jones allowed to appoint other pastors, as I did when I picked Hue Fortson. Jones placed a lot of trust for me. He and I even went down together to get our shots to go to Guyana.

However, as it turned out, I chose not go. I saw that Jones was losing his mind due to his abuse of amphetamines. After publicly announcing to a number of members of Peoples Temple that Jones had gotten into power trips and humiliation tactics, I was hunted down and told that he had taken out a contract on my life.

Over the years I paid a steep price for having gone up against Jim Jones, but Peoples Temple was only one experience in a very colorful life for me. It is all an education. I recommend that everyone realize that no one is all bad and no one is all good. We must go through life picking and choosing, keeping the good in life and pushing away the bad …. and learning from it all.


Watch the video: Jonestown: The Survivors Speak. Jonestown: Paradise Lost. Retold