Serial 1638×5

United States Government
Memorandum

Date: December 15, 1978

To: Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation

From: Philip B. Heymann
Assistant Attorney General
Criminal Division

Subject: People’s Temple

In the aftermath of the events at Jonestown, Guyana, information has been developed which, in our view, would provide a legal basis for further FBI investigation of the activities of the People’s Temple (PT) within the United States.

Our review of pertinent teletypes determine that the FBI has developed information from former PT members that may be adequate to place the organization within the guidelines for domestic security investigations. Former members have alleged that a plan was formulated to kill government officials. In our view, this information appears to be a sufficient basis for a limited investigation under the Attorney General’s guidelines for domestic security investigations. Accordingly, we suggest that the Bureau undertake such a limited investigation.

To the extent that the above mentioned government officials targeted for assassination include the President, Vice President, or Members of Congress, there would appear to be a basis for an investigation of a possible conspiracy to violate 18 USC 351 or 1751. It is requested that such an investigation be initiated.

Incident to these investigations, it is requested that the Bureau inquire into the possible illegal acquisition, transportation, and exportation of firearms in possible violation of 18 USC 922 and 22 USC 2778.

[Page 2]

[Photocopy of torn file sheet]

[Page 3]

In the event that the Government of Guyana requests FBI assistance in conducting investigation and covering leads in this country in support of the investigation in Guyana, it is requested that the Bureau conduct such investigation as a foreign police cooperation matter. [Handwritten marginal note: “FPC”]

Should individuals having information relevant to the events which recently occurred in Guyana received threats of bodily harm by telephone or letter from a person or persons known or unknown, the Bureau should immediately undertake an appropriate investigation of such matters as possible violations of 18 USC §§ 875, 876, or 877. Should individuals having information relevant to the recent events in Guyana receive threats of bodily harm if they disclose what they know to law enforcement authorities, the Nero should undertake an investigation under the above three statutes and as a possible violation of 18 USC §1510, should the threat be transmitted orally. Should the threats be received after the individual has been served with a grand jury subpoena calling for testimony, a possible violation of 18 USC §1503 may also exist and should be investigated. A conspiracy to threaten a person to deter him from testifying before a grand jury may be a violation of 18 USC § 241, a statute administered by the Civil Rights Division. You should maintain appropriate contact with the Civil Rights Division with respect to that statute. [Handwritten marginal notes: “Extortion” alongside first third of paragraph; “Ob[struction] of Justice” alongside second third of paragraph; “CR” alongside last third of paragraph.]

Finally, it is our understanding that the Civil Division is exploring the possibility of recovering the Government’s costs in the Guyana operation from the assets of PT. It is requested that the Bureau coordinate this matter with the Civil Division with a view toward conducting an investigation to ascertain financial ability. [Handwritten marginal note: “AFA FAE”]

Originally posted on May 13th, 2018.

Skip to main content