Q211 Summary

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “News Oct. 23, 1978”
Date cues on tape:     October 24, 1978 (14th anniversary of Zambian independence)

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:
Attila the Hun
Adolf Hitler


President Jimmy Carter

Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Takeo Fukuda, Japanese Prime Minister
Teng Hsiao-Ping, Chinese Prime Minister

Reverend Ralph Abernathy, civil rights activist


Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Mary Anita


Jonestown residents:
James Baisy
Mary Griffith
Ava Inghram
Ricky Johnson
Mike Prokes (speaks)
Teri Smart
Bobby Stroud
Joyce Touchette


Bible verses cited:      None


(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)

Jim Jones reads the news of 24 October 1978. Among the stories he spends some time with:

• Sandinista insurrection in Nicaragua
• American corporate perspectives on worker safety and OSHA
• Iranian release of prisoners, even as the Shah’s opponents claims additional murders
• Zambian independence day
• German corporations expanding commercial ties with South Africa
• Conditions for workers in South African mines
• Friendship treaty between Japan and China, and the Soviet response to it


As with most of these newscasts, Jones relies upon Soviet, Eastern Bloc and Third World news sources, most of which are predisposed to presenting American interests in an unfavorable light (the pro-Soviet tilt is also evident in the news coverage of the Sino-Japanese pact, which caused concern in Moscow). Reinforcing this slant, Jones adds some of his own editorial comments, most them in a casual, offhand manner. After describing US military intervention on numerous occasions over the years against elected governments in Nicaragua, for example, he pauses and adds, “You can tell the way people play abroad, the way they’re going to play at home.”

At other places, however, Jones makes larger connections between a news story and a concern or lesson in Jonestown. The context of the discussion about worker safety and occupational health in the US was a report published the previous week about carcinogens in the workplace, to which Jones adds, “That’s why we should be thrilled to be here. There’s nothing here that causes cancer. Clean air, pure air, free trade winds blowing constantly, no debris, no smog,” then appends his coda, “and yet some gripe.”

Jones slurs many of his words – whether due to exhaustion or drugs is unknown – but in between news items returns to several problems in the Jonestown community which are on his mind. The tape begins, for example, with warnings about dangers in the jungle which await those who attempt to escape through it. The issue of runaways recurs several times, including his implicit authorization for security to take appropriate measures to stop them: “I am calling heretofore an increased staff of security… I mean business. If it’s in the legs, fine. If not, the government will understand. We’re not going to have any more of this damned foolishness.”

If the attempted escapes have preyed on Jones’ mind, so has the productivity of the workforce. One of the refrains of the community’s last months was to work harder, and this tape includes an exhortation to do so as well. “[P]lease let’s do much production. Show me that you can work… Show me you can work in eight hours what you could ordinarily do in ten hours.”

He also invites residents to make use of the suggestion box, but the message of what types of criticisms will be tolerated is a mixed one. “Some of the best ideas in the last few weeks, two weeks, you’ve heard me give credit to the names,” he says immediately after warning, “I don’t mean criticism of the group but from me or any other thing.” A moment later, he adds, “It better be a legitimate honest complaint instead of some kind of manipulation or a conning.”

Jones is also preoccupied with the impending arrival of several guests from the Soviet Union, with which the Jonestown community is negotiating for emigration. “I’m not going to give you so much news because I want tomorrow, that you listen very closely on how to greet strangers.” He calls several times for people to put their houses, their possessions, and the common areas “in neat and very strict order.” He reiterates this message as the tape ends: “We want this place in absolute order because the ambassador said that’s what would be the thing that would impress the leaders of the Soviet Union who are coming here.”

Even though this tape was made about three weeks before the mass deaths, Jones puts the report of dissatisfaction in the community – manifesting itself in escape attempts and disciplinary measures – in the context of suicide. But as opposed to its glorification, as occurs at numerous nighttime meetings from this period, Jones argues strongly against it, and presents several reasons why “the socialist” wouldn’t consider it. Suicide sets your own evolution back “500 generations,” he says. Besides, you won’t die and your mind will continue, so there’s no point in it. But the most “terrible thing” – a word he uses twice to describe it – is “to leave a vacuum for your children.”

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/5/79

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 28, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B69-37. This tape was found to contain the following:

The tape consisted of three general areas:

1. News and commentary by JIM JONES. News Items included topics such as:

a. Cancer
c. Rhodesia

2. Unidentified male individual discussing healing powers of Dad

3. An announcement by JIM JONES re Soviet visitors

Differences with FBI Summary:

The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.

Tape originally posted March 2008