The Jonestown Jihad

If James Jones had been OBL. Charting the threat.

Reverend Jim Jones Based on analysis of written statements made by inmates of the privately-owned for-profit “Jonestown” concentration camp in the late seventies the has compiled a chart of the violent attacks that camp founder and commandant Reverend Jim Jones had his inmates say they would carry out.

The Reverend Jones ran regular opinion polls in order to gauge the mood of his captives. Shortly before the massacre he surveyed the whole camp on how they would give their bodies if the camp was attacked by overwhelming forces. Prior to this he had been conditioning the camp towards communal suicide and the point of this survey was most likely for Jones to decide if they would go through with it, or if he would have to arrange their deaths by other means. Only about a quarter of the inmates’ responses are preserved for posterity, the remaining inmates either did not respond (although it was mandatory), or their responses are lost or remain impounded. The has categorized the various acts of violence proposed and grouped them according to the character of the violence as currently understood in the Twenty-First Century.

Jihad Jim?

At the time the statements were made Jim was not planning any jihad against America. On the contrary the statements were asked for as part of a secret Jones plan aimed at securing his coveted place in history. To do so, he would murder all of his parishoners-cum-prisoners then shoot himself. He had previously threatened to do so, telling Guyanan authorities that if the courts interfered with him they would come to Jonestown and find “nothing but bodies“. And ultimately, that is indeed what they found there. Over nine hundred of them and nobody left alive to tell the tale.

Prior to the massacre Reverend Jones had toyed with the idea of conditioning ‘his’ people to the idea of committing mass suicide. Jones spent months, perhaps years, using Pavlovian and Orwellian methods as well as straight-forward physical and psychological abuse, to condition his captives towards this aim. He was only partially successful at inculcating suicide, and most of his followers were ultimately murdered by Jim’s henchmen and henchwomen on Jim’s command.

The Reverend Jones’ murders are often mistaken for a mass suicide, although perhaps as many as two in three of his victims did not kill themselves. This misunderstanding continues through to today due in part to officialdom’s unwillingness to bring public attention to the methods used by Jones (hint: They are the same methods that politicians, preachers, salespeople, corporations, and abusers of all kinds employ to control the behavior of others). The misunderstandings also arise in part due to “Kool-Aid” references from people who try to sound hip but use a phrase that conveys even less information about the events at Jonestown than Ring a Ring o’ Roses tells you about the Black Death. Most of the alleged mass suicides in recent times were also, in fact, mass murders with the notable exception perhaps of Heaven’s Gate.

They’re Dead, Jim

There's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow In any discussion of mass suicide Heaven’s Gate – also known as The Beam Me Up Scotty Cult – are the Charles Manson Poster Boys of the art, and an art form they made it, and will always need a mention. They are unsurpassed. They deserve their unique, albeit bizarre, footnote in the history books.

All thirty-nine members are confirmed to have killed themselves – in a McMansion in a gated Californian community, using a.s.h. and EXIT-approved methods, coordinated to a precisely pre-arranged time schedule over a period of three days. They attached identification purple triangles to their chests and each body was carrying five dollars and three quarters. Their beliefs were a mixture of the Book of Revelations, Computer Science, and Star Trek. The money, the $5.75 they all carried, was to pay an interplanetary toll at some unspecified star-gate they would be passing through in the after life.

It begs the question why they left the stargate-toll money behind with their Earthly bodies, but I guess we’ll never know. What we do know is that Heaven’s Gate show us what a cult’s mass-suicide actually looks like, and like the gated McMansion it took place in, it was very different to what was found in Jonestown, Guyana.

Methodology and Caveats

Jones’ victims weren’t quite as bat-shit crazy as Heaven’s Gate, fortunately. Jones had asked his followers to send him written statements of how they would use their bodies to defend the cult if it was attacked by unspecified albeit powerful enemies and was facing destruction. It should be noted that the statements made were not necessarily true and in at least one case the writer had clearly misunderstood the question.

In other cases the writers are among the few Jonestown survivors and did not carry out their threats. It’s possible some survived and did carry out attacks. Most, however, would never get a chance since Jim wanted to see them all lying dead at his feet sooner rather than later. He even said so in his infamous final recording, a hastily-made Jonestown death tape using poorly configured consumer-grade recording equipment that nevertheless is regarded as one of the weirdest recordings of the 1970s – and that was up against some stiff competition.

The statements made are not being judged as true or false. Some were made by people clearly incapable of fighting, others were lies meant to placate a leader the writer was terrified of. We have divided the various methods expressed into 23 separate categories of violent action ranging from homeland defense to the use of chemical and biological weapons. First the chart, with clarification of the categories below.

Methods of Violence Volunteered For

Click to Enlarge

Explanation of Terms

Fight, defensive
The most popular suggestion, to fight defensively, covers all people who suggested things such as “stand and fight”, or qualified their actions with references to invaders or attackers. This isn’t actually an aberrant suggestion and many, perhaps most people are ready to stand and fight to defend their homes or community. It would ultimately depend upon the individual’s fight-or-flight response if and when the time came. Jones lacked the military experience necessary to develop this otherwise admirable trait in his followers, but Jones had no need for a defensive force and certainly did not want the people he planned to murder to be capable of defending themselves. Second amendment fans will be delighted to learn that Jim Jones disarmed his followers.

The fifty-four who said they would defend Jonestown to the death do not count as Jonestown Jihadis. They are included as a control sample. The rest of the categories, listed below, assume the writers to be describing offensive activities they would consider carrying out away from Jonestown (or against other Jonestown residents/inmates). These are all aggressive rather than defensive.

Hijack and Crash Aircraft
Only one cult member volunteered to hijack an aircraft.

Go in Sleep
The member who offered to “go in sleep” had presumably misunderstood the question and thought she had been asked how she “preferred to die”, missing the all-important, “when you are called on to do so by your Leader”. Or she might have been sending him a message.

The two individuals who responded by saying they would eat or be eaten by (one of each) enemies are simply bizarre. Although if you have been following the recent events in Syria there may be some clue as to what was meant there, at least in one case. How being eaten by an enemy could help the cause I’m not sure. It could be a reference to some kind of suicide-biological attack, but that has not been made clear so it has been given a category of its own.

Stomp on balls, dick
The individual who falls under “stomp on balls, dick” deserves mention and automatically falls into a category of uniqueness. The full quotation is, “ [I would be] a crazy nigger, biting, stomping their balls, dick, hair, eyes, breaking their fingers, anything I could get a hold of.“. Amazing and vivid imagery. We can’t help but like this guy. A real leader would have recognized such natural talent at expressing oneself with the written word and would have encouraged the man to develop his writing skills further. He could have been a comedian or a script writer.

Biological Weapon
Only one member specified a preference for biological weapons, but it is not entirely certain who her intended victims were. “I personally would like to grind up my relatives into hamburger meat and sell it to McDonald.s“. It’s unknown whether or not this lady, if you can call her that, believed her relatives to be infected by any known pathogens, but her suggestion does appear to involve using them as weapons against hamburger eaters. Hence, a biological weapon, target unknown.

Kill mother fuckers
Two individuals specified a definite desire to “kill mother fuckers” and thus it deserves a category of its own.

Drink urine
Another suggestion made by two separate persons, who in both cases were referring to the consumption of their own urine. It’s an open question as to how they thought this might help in the defense of the community. It’s possible that they planned to lace the urine with cyanide before drinking it, and indeed this may in fact be what they ultimately did. It’s plausible therefore that these two actually carried out their threats, and thus deserve their own category. Personally, I think they should have got together with the dick stomping guy above and started writing children’s stories together. “Dick Stomper Goes Nigger Crazy on a Pint of Poisoned Piss“, it could have been a work of genius. Make Harry Potter look like a pervert public school-teacher’s butt-sore boot-boy.

Suicide Bomb – Internal
Suicide bombing was the single most popular means of attack suggested by the inmates of Jonestown. There were fifty-three volunteers out of the two-hundred fifty who responded positively to the survey, just one less than the number who professed a desire to die defensively. This is a surprising number, since when this survey was taken, late 1978, suicide bombings had not been popularized to the extent seen today. Now, everybody is doing it, but back then it was comparatively rare. Suicide bombing was a common thought in the warped and manipulated minds of the Jonestown victims to the extent that it has had to be sub-divided into two classes – those who would carry their bombs outside of their bodies, and the three who would carry them internally. Two women volunteered to have bombs hidden in their vaginas, one of which would be a chemical weapon. The third, a man, was prepared to have a bomb surgically implanted by the camp’s Mengelean Doctor, Lawrence Schacht. There were no volunteers to carry a butt-bomb. This would normally go without saying of course, in any other context. In Jonestown it’s notable by its absence.

Only four people suggested – graphically – that they would torture. This is considerably less than the fourteen who said they would kill their own children.

Hand-to-Hand Combat
Answers were put into this category if the respondents specifically describe fighting with their hands, or with contact or edge weapons. Where such conduct was included with other forms of fighting-at-a-distance the answer was excluded from this section and listed under a more suitable category. Some people clearly considered war-fighting to be a contact activity, but this may relate to American cultural associations with counting coup.

Fuck / Stripshow
At first glance this seems an odd way to give one’s life but the survey question was phrased in terms of giving one’s body. It is possible therefore that one or two of the volunteers in this category had not fully understood the question. Four women volunteered, and one man. He proposed that he engage in homosexual sex in order to discredit enemies in the eyes of homophobes before killing the man and himself. He wanted to make the murder-suicide look like a gay lover’s tiff gone wrong. Three of the women were offering to use their bodies sexually as a distraction, a means of smuggling weapons, and/or espionage.

One woman professed at length and with some eloquence that she would “fuck anyone (…) fuck someone and kill him while he is fucking me“. Apparently this individual, a hard-core camp loyalist described by inmates as “the most dangerous person alive“, had once had a bad relationship with a man and had never gotten over it. Since then she had wanted to take her anger out on all men, only finding solace in the denial-of-sex regime at Jones’ camp. She was ahead of her time and radical feminists were yet to descend to their current gutter level of man-hating depravity. Otherwise she would have joined them receiving a warm and open-armed welcome, and Jones would have lost another follower. Fortunately for men and women everywhere, this child-murdering man-hater is no longer with us. Good riddance to her.

The cutlass was a surprisingly popular choice of weapon, with six inmates saying they would use one either as a preference or on a needs-must basis. A couple of them suggested the cutlass as a weapon of choice for front-line close-quarter combat. This is not so daft as it sounds since if you are within ten meters of an adversary armed with a gun the cutlass will often win.

Human Torch
Eight people chose aggressive self-immolation, with at least three specifically referring to the act as “human torch”. The phoney-baloney Dalai Lama must be kicking himself that Jones got his hooks into these eight before he could.

Fight on Front Line
Here we have the core group of standard-issue volunteer grunts. The backbone of any army. Most of the thirteen who said they wanted to fight on the front lines were likely lying, and just saying so because they thought it was what their crackpot zonked-out leader wanted to hear. They would have probably tried to escape before the shooting started and would have had to have been watched closely. Nobody in their right mind would trust the kind of fool who said he or she wanted front-line combat, but Jim Jones wasn’t in his right mind. He was in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

This was not volunteering to kill the enemy’s children. These fourteen volunteered to kill their own children and it’s likely they carried it out. True believers in other words. Would do anything for Jim.

Responses were classified “Insurgent” if the writer expressed a desire for any kind of personal use of force in a third country outside Guyana or USA, or described what they would do in classical insurgency terms. There were fourteen of these, and possibly some if not all had prior professional military experience or training.

General Terrorism
Often difficult to separate from the insurgency, these were chosen where the acts described were exclusively terroristic, or where they involved the use of insurgency tactics within US borders.

Chemical Weapons
Surprisingly popular. However, Commandant Jones had been steering the inmates towards using a chemical weapon on themselves and this may be why it was in their minds. However, the sixteen who said they would use chemical weapons also said they would use them against others. A range of substances was proposed from unspecified “poison”, to detailed use of strychnine.

A total of forty-four members of the People’s Temple offered to carry out assassination(s) of named individuals or office-holders. Many would also volunteer for other operations of a similar nature but added enough specificity to their plot to include them as potential assassins.

Unspecified / Any way possible
The second largest group. Willing to do whatever is required of them and ready to follow every order no matter how ridiculous. Some were simply too angry to say exactly what they would do but it would be bad.

Suicide Bomb – External
Most popular of all a staggering fifty people, twenty percent of all those who responded positively to the martyrdom question, wanted to blow themselves up in the presence of the Church’s enemies. Excluding the three mentioned previously, these fifty were all classical suicide bombers carrying the explosives on – as opposed to in – their person. One wanted to use a car bomb, driving it into a target vehicle for detonation. A common as muck tactic of the rank and file shahid in today’s battlespace, but this guy was clearly ahead of his time. Some proposals were detailed including named targets, location, type and amount of explosive to be used, and the source from which it would be acquired.

Americans who have read this far might wonder what would have befallen America if Jim Jones had chosen to train these people and send them back to the USA to wage war. At the time it was feared there may be as many as two hundred surviving Jones loyalists ready to carry out acts of terror similar to those described above. There were incidents of such a character, unsolved murders and suicide spectaculars. Yet there was no call to set up a department of homeland security, no TSA, no invasive searches at the airports, and only minimal use of the no-fly list, secret prisons, and torture. President Jimmy Carter didn’t bomb Guyana.

What the Jonestown Jihadis wanted to do was no different, and in some cases much worse, than what their modern day counter parts wish to do. Compare then, if you will, the recent police response to one on-the-run and wounded nineteen year old in Boston, to the similar hunt for Jonestown Jihadis thirty years previously.

Recommended Listening / Jonestown Jihad playlist

The Firm – Star Trekkin’ Heaven’s Gate official anthem
The Jonestown Death Tape (FBI No. Q 042) (November 18, 1978) Death tape.

Sites Referenced in this article

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