Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “11/8/78 11/9/78”
Date cues on tape: November 7, 1978 (specified by Jones)
Public figures/National and international names:
Augusto Pinochet, military ruler of Chile
Salvador Allende, deposed president of Chile
Reva Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran
Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda
Jomo Kenyatta, president of Kenya (by reference)
Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania
Ian Smith, prime minister of Rhodesia
Rashleigh Jackson, Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs (by reference)
Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party Secretary General, Soviet Union
James Schlesinger, U.S. Secretary of Energy
Rep. Leo Ryan (D-California)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Rita Lenin, aka Rita Tupper
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Seriina Covarrubias. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Recorded on November 7, 1978 – eleven days before the mass deaths in Jonestown – this tape divides Jim Jones’ time between reading the news of the day and alerting the people of Jonestown about the plans of Congressman Leo Ryan to visit the community on an unspecified date in the near future.
This tape may show some of Jones’ earliest reactions to Ryan’s plans, since the news of the pending visit seems fresh to Jones. He is most animated when he speaks of the possible arrival of the congressional party – which would include some of the “group of bad relatives who are working with the conspiracy” – to the degree that at one point, he hurries through a news item, mispronouncing the last word of the story, in order to talk more about the more immediate threat to the community. Jones is also confused about the congressman’s name – perhaps because of its unfamiliarity, perhaps because, as evidenced in the slight impairment in his voice, he may be fighting fatigue or pharmaceutical haziness – and refers to him half the time as “Congressman O’Ryan.” But the first time Jones identifies the congressman, he is quite emphatic: “His name is Congressman Ryan.”
The news items – which predominate the first half of the tape – include:
. The Shah of Iran and his new military government;
. A summit of Arab leaders;
. Tension between Tanzania and Uganda over a border dispute;
. The U.S. Energy Department’s views on OPEC’s oil pricing policies;
. Monsoon rains in India; and
. A single-line reference to “a young black youth … castrated and tied to a tree, left to die.”
But much of the tape centers on the uninvited fact-finding delegation headed by Ryan and including many of the relatives who have caused so much difficulty for the Jonestown community. Jones offers several ideas for handling the relatives: to refuse to see them; to accept that they will come into Jonestown, but to say “No” to every one of their demands and requests; and to sign a petition that expresses the community’s opposition to the relatives’ visit.
Jones focuses on this last point in particular – “Collect these names as fast as we can” – because that will allow the community to go through normal channels and work with the Guyanese to block the legal entry of the relatives. And if the relatives can’t get in legally, then the only way they can come is through illegal means, and they should know what that means. “[T]hey will have to suffer the consequences, and those consequences will be grave indeed,” Jones promises, then adds in the next sentence, “if anyone approaches this property illegally, they will leave it dead.” At the end of the message, he shifts the responsibility for warning “hostile” relatives to the community members. “If you want to help your relative to one day wake up from their insanity. [i]f you care for your relative [who] might be on this illegal excursion,” he says, “you had better tell now so we can get it stopped, because if they come in here by night, they are finished.”
In language that will become quite familiar to the people of Jonestown by the time Ryan arrives slightly more than a week later, Jones refers to the California congressman as a “Birchite” (i.e., a member of the John Birch Society), a “reputable fascist” and a right-winger who supports the minority white government in the Union of South Africa as well as “the brutal dictator that killed the blacks in Chile.” As for other members of the congressional party, Jones continues, “if your relatives come with him, your relatives are no better than he is.”
But the relatives are not only guilty by association. Jones describes Tim and Grace Stoen as being “as high in their salutations for fascism as they once were in their devotion to socialism.” The others who will accompany Ryan “are filled with hate. They tell the most horrible tales. They whip up dreams of madness out of their own nightmares and evil souls. These are wicked people. Those are enemies.”
Date of transcription: 6/12/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On May 24, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B68-26. This tape was found to contain the following:
A monologue by JIM JONES concerning current events.
This tape was reviewed and nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be of evidentiary nature or beneficial to the investigation of the murder of Congressman RYAN.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary does contain news of the day from November 7, 1978, eleven days before the mass deaths in Jonestown. It also includes instructions to members of the community on how they are supposed to interact with any of their relatives who accompany Congressman Ryan, what legal means they can take to keep the visitors out, and what fate awaits any relative who tries to get in illegally.
Tape originally posted February 2005