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 “Tuesday Oct 3”
Date cues on tape: News items consistent with date on tape note
Public figures/National and international names:
Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State
Lillian Carter, mother of President Carter
Rosalynn Carter, wife of President CarterLeonid Brezhnev, Communist Party General Secretary, Soviet Union
Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union
Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Foreign Minister
Erich Honecker, president of East Germany [by reference]
Hans-Dietrich Genscher, foreign minister of West Germany [by reference]
James Callaghan, Prime Minister of Britain
Margaret Thatcher, leader of British Conservative Party
Unknown ambassador from the Soviet Union to GuyanaNoor Mohammad Taraki, Afghanistan Prime Minister
Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt
Hafez Al-Assad, president of Syria [by reference]
Elias Sarkis, president of Lebanon [by reference]
Saud bin Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister [by reference]
Gaafar Muhammad an-Nimeiry, president of Sudan [by reference]
Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, leader of Zimbabwe independence
Louis Lansana Beavogui, prime minister of Guinea [by reference]
Mengistu Haile Mariam, prime minister of Ethiopia
Mahatma Gandhi, Indian leader, practitioner of non-violence
Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam
Ton Duc Thang, president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Unknown name, Cambodia’s foreign minister
Anastasio Somoza Debayle, president of Nicaragua
Carlos Perez, President of Venezuela
Forbes Burnham, prime minister of Guyana
Pope John Paul I
Pope Paul VI [by reference]
Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Department worker who leaked Pentagon Papers
Solomon Stepak (phonetic), banished Jewish dissident
Vladimir Stepak (phonetic), father of banished Jewish dissident
Bible verses cited: None
Jim Jones reads the news of the day for Tuesday, October 3, 1978.
While parts of the newscast may come from other wire services that Jones often used – the BBC, Voice of America, and European radio networks – he relies most heavily, and perhaps exclusively, on Radio Moscow and other Soviet news sources for this edition. It is not only the coverage of stories that reveals this, but the tone, the rhetoric and even the use of first-person pronouns when describing events in the Soviet Union and its allies. The bulletins of overt Soviet origin are scattered throughout the broadcast, including these items:
• An award given to the president of Vietnam
• Congratulations to Guinea on the 20th anniversary of its republic;
• Support for a conference on African liberation movements and against apartheid;
• Soviet perspectives on a meeting between Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
• Expressions of friendship between Leonid Brezhnev and the Ethiopian government
• Soviet geologist exploration of coal deposits in Mozambique
• Soviet space mission sets records
• Economic council of Soviet-bloc countries meeting in Mongolia;
• Discussion of role of trade unions in USSR
• Soviet development of boat to allow for navigation of small, winding rivers
• Soviet dissident émigré to Israel disowned by father
As with other news tapes, however, it is not always clear when the editorial asides are part of the copy, or whether they come spontaneously from the reader. The name of the country “The Soviet Union” is almost always followed by “the avant garde of liberation of the world,” but that is language that is common both to Radio Moscow and Jim Jones. This is also the case with a three-time description of Washington, DC as “the center of world imperialism.” One commentary – “the USA and her Western imperialists were on the wrong side of every question and the Soviet Union and Cuba were on the right side of every issue” – seems to be part of the news copy which Jones is reading, but a longer string of anti-Western invective in the description of NATO – “the military adventurers, aggressive expansionist fascist imperialist lackeys of US imperialism” – likely comes from Jones.
But it is Jones himself who takes advantage of several opportunities to disparage religion. When reporting that the pope had died after about a month in office, Jones comments that “God’s representative on earth does not seem to be faring very well.” As he reports on monsoon floods destroying crops and killing thousands of people in India, he adds, “An act of God.” When he notes that scores of pilgrims en route to a religious festival, also in India, drowned in a boating accident, he comments, “It seems that God does not protect his own while they’re going to bow at his shrines of festivals and worship.” Finally, in describing the battle for Lebanon as one between government forces and Phalangists Christian fascists, he offers the aside that “Christians mostly all over the world are fascists except in Ethiopia.”
Jones is almost certainly the source of the several comments that the threat of nuclear holocaust will spin out to an inevitable conclusion. In reporting the talks between Vance and Gromyko on limiting strategic arms, he adds, “Let us hope it’s not too late before the terror of nuclear holocaust rains down upon North America.” A moment later, he expands upon a story from the Middle East to suggest that this is “the spot that would lead to World War III, which would mean the end of US society. Over 200 million of our beloved people there would die in less than 13 minutes.” Finally, he adds that an economic summit of Communist-bloc nations in Mongolia concluded with a statement that “nuclear war is still absolutely inevitable, but may be postponed. Let’s hope that they put the emphasis upon postponed, though most scientists say that, even within the year, nuclear war is likely.”
Other commentary is familiar to the people of Jonestown: he describes West Germany as “prid[ing] itself as being the successor to Hitler’s Third Reich,” he says “fascist South Africa [is] upheld by US tax dollars which burns my stomach every time I think of it,” and he labels the US condemnation of other countries’ human rights record as “hypocritical.”
Finally, there is some revisionist history: In the course of advocating for armed struggle against oppression, Jones quotes Mahatma Gandhi – “though he was a pacifist” – as saying “if it comes between a choice of slavery and violence, I would accept violence without a hesitant thought.”
Other news items include:
• Vance mission to Middle East only part of world reaction to agreement;
• Lebanon attempts to form new government, even as serious fighting continues;
• Rhodesian government officials encounter visa problems in coming to US
• Rhodesia shuts down black-run daily newspaper, and editor may be jailed;
• British Labour Party suffers setback, may lead to early elections
• Somozan government may be open to negotiations with opposition in Nicaragua, even as more world leaders condemn regime.
The tape concludes with several messages to the Jonestown community, although these are quite familiar as well: people should study the news tapes in preparation for a test, so they won’t have to take extra classes; they should work harder to produce the land, so their brothers and sisters still in the States can come to this sanctuary; and the suggestion box is always open for ideas on how to stretch the food supply they have.
There is more discussion on this tape, however, about plans to emigrate to the Soviet Union (which may be the reason that Jones focused on Soviet news services that day). He tells the people that the Soviets who visit are uniformly impressed with the settlement, but if their plans are to go through, the people need to impress them even more. That includes knowledge of the news, knowledge of the Russian language and constitution, and cleanliness and neatness of their surroundings. This latter point isn’t just about the grounds – although this is part of it – but to personal grooming as well. People must cut their hair, and men must not wear beards.
But the sacrifices will be temporary – they can grow their hair again once they arrive – and they will be worth it, Jones promises. The Soviets are building them a coliseum, a gymnasium and other facilities. Moreover, they will not be subject to scrutiny by the American consular office.
His voice is slow and ponderous by the tape’s end, which he explains – “I have been up for two nights, so excuse the sluggishness” – but he continues to implore them to work hard. Jones ends the tape with his declarations of love for the community.
Date of transcription: 6/26/79
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 June 5, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-8. This tape was found to contain the following:
Tuesday news by Reverend JIM JONES wherein he exhorts and threatens the people at Jonestown to listen to the news or face five days additional classes on Socialism.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2012