Jonestown Massacre: The 9/11 of the War on Alternative Spirituality

The Official Story Questioned

In spite of evidence of murder and many anomalies in the circumstances, the media and US government were pushing the mass suicide narrative before the dust had even settled on the Jonestown massacre.

The official line was that Jim Jones brainwashed everyone into drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. People were so brainwashed they all drank it on command and lay down and died in ordered rows. End of story. This narrative was entrenched with the help of leading figures in the anti-cult movement, some of whom had backgrounds in government “mind control” research. They were widely quoted in the media to “explain” what had happened (more on that later).

Since the government deemed it unnecessary to conduct autopsies because the cause of death was “not an issue”; it apparently deemed it unnecessary to fully investigate the murders too.

But not everyone believed the official explanation. Not everyone believed that what happened was so simple. Soon, the US government was not just criticised for mishandling the recovery operation; it was alleged it actually had a hand in what transpired.

Congressman Ryan’s Assassination and the CIA

Before he was assassinated on a jungle airstrip in circumstances that triggered the Jonestown massacre, Congressman Leo Ryan had been a thorn in the side of the CIA. He leaked information on the CIA’s covert involvement in the Angola civil war. He was also co-sponsor of the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which banned the CIA from undertaking covert operations without notifying Congress, and banned CIA paramilitary operations without Congressional approval.

Jack

Read the full news article here

Two months before the Jonestown tragedy, he had questioned the CIA about whether they were involved in mind control medical experiments on inmates at a Vacaville medical facility in California. Vacaville had housed Donald DeFreeze who went on to call himself “Cinque” and lead the criminal “revolutionary” group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army. According to investigative reporter Jack Anderson who published the article, “CIA May Have Inspired Cinque,” DeFreeze claimed that as a prisoner he was the victim of mind control experiments, and had vowed to another inmate that he would use the same techniques on others when he was out. The CIA did in fact carry out MK-ULTRA medical experiments at Vacaville, where DeFreeze was held. Inmates were reportedly drugged, harassed and confined in isolation, to determine “at what point individuals would “break” and follow orders blindly”.

Patty Hearst yelling commands at bank customers

Patty Hearst robbing a bank with a semi-automatic

DeFreeze later kidnapped the wealthy heiress Patty Hearst, daughter of the renowned newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. After going through brutal physical and psychological torture, she eventually took on the revolutionary group’s cause and joined them in robbing a bank armed with a semi-automatic firearm. When charges were brought against her, her defence was that she was brainwashed. Congressman Ryan had written to the President calling for Patty Hearst’s clemency. He apparently felt the US government’s covert mind control programs were in some way responsible for her bizarre descent into criminality.

After Congressman Ryan’s assassination in Guyana, his Amendment curtailing CIA covert operations was defeated. Foul play was suspected.

Jonestown and MK-ULTRA

In 1980, Congressman Ryan’s chief-of-staff Joseph Holsinger – who did not accompany the congressman to Guyana but helped to arrange his visit – declared he had uncovered that Jonestown was a covert CIA “mind-control experiment” and that Ryan’s visit threatened to pierce the veil and expose it. He was convinced Ryan and the entire Jonestown encampment were eliminated by the CIA for this reason and testified to Congress that the CIA was behind what happened.

Vast quantities of psychiatric “mind control” drugs were indeed found at Jonestown, reportedly enough to drug more than 200,000 people. Drugs found included Thorazine, sodium pentothal, chloral hydrate, Demerol, and Valium. Thorazine, a powerful tranquiliser, was reportedly used on MK-ULTRA victims. Sodium pentothal is used in interrogations as a “truth serum” and chloral hydrate is a hypnotic which was also used on MK-ULTRA victims.

US Army medic Jeff Brailey reported that as he was attempting to board a helicopter departing the Jonestown recovery operation, he was approached by an anxious unidentified man carrying a box of documents. The man, who Brailey believed was a CIA operative, asked Brailey if his gun was loaded. When he answered in the affirmative, the agent sought to leave the documents with Brailey and told him to shoot anyone who tried to take the box because the documents inside were “very sensitive” and “we can’t let them get into the wrong hands.” What sort of documents would require such drastic and lethal protection? Their contents remain unknown.

Under MK-ULTRA, the CIA had been running clandestine human medical experiments in public hospitals, universities and prisons, but they had told Congress this had ceased in 1973 (the same year they destroyed most of the MK-ULTRA files in a concerted cover-up). Holsinger, however, had received a university report titled “The Penal Colony” claiming the experiments had continued, and secretly shifted to “religious cults”.

The researcher John Judge noted that the membership of Jonestown, made up of mostly minorities, correlated with designated “target populations” for CIA and military intelligence behaviour modification experimentation. After experiments in prisons and hospitals were put under scrutiny in the early 70’s, there were plans to establish a remote and secluded medical “behaviour modification” research centre on a missile base in the mid 70’s. It was around this time that the Peoples Temple relocated to Guyana.

Legal proceedings were brought against the CIA by Ryan’s family, based on Holsinger’s charges. According to Freedom magazine, the Ryan family’s lawsuit against the CIA was summarily dismissed for reasons that have “never been fully disclosed”:

The Ryans’ claim against the government, filed in the U.S.  District Court of the Northern District of California on July 31, 1980, asked $1,481 for Rep.  Ryan’s funeral expenses, general damages of $3 million, plus costs.

The lawsuit charged, “Prior to his November [1978] fact-finding mission to Guyana, decedent [Leo Ryan] had many times unsuccessfully attempted to learn from the United States Department of State of the true circumstances and events occurring at the Jonestown colony in Guyana.

“The United States Department of State knew prior to November 14, 1978, of vital information concerning said Jonestown colony and withheld this information from decedent despite his many requests for such information.

“Said information included knowledge by the Department of State of … the existence of a large supply of mind control narcotics at the Jonestown colony which were being used in mind control experiments, initiated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency upon citizens of the Jonestown colony.”

Also charged in the lawsuit: “The Jonestown colony was infiltrated with agent(s) of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.  … [S]aid agents were working with the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency to use the Jonestown colony as a mass mind control experiment as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s MK ULTRA program.”

The lawsuit identified by name two Americans in Guyana as CIA agents — Philip Blakey, an aide to Jones, and Richard Dwyer, deputy chief of the U.S.  embassy in Guyana – and noted that massive quantities of mind control drugs were found at Jonestown after the mass killings, a fact also reported by news media.”

Reportedly, the family did not have sufficient funds to continue in their legal attempts to bring the CIA to account.

Both Blakey and Dwyer, who are mentioned in the lawsuit, survived the Jonestown tragedy. Blakey came from a wealthy family and had donated $60,000 to the Jonestown property and arranged the lease with the Guyanese government. There are unconfirmed reports that he was “a mercenary for the CIA-backed UNITA rebels in Angola” where the CIA had been covertly involved in a civil war (which Congressman Ryan helped to expose). Blakey was married to Debbie Layton and was brother-in-law to Larry Layton; both Debbie and Larry were Temple members also from a wealthy family. Larry Layton was the only assassin identified in the airstrip shooting prior to the massacre at Jonestown, who was restrained after opening fire aboard the smaller plane. His father, Dr Laurence Layton, was “Chief of Chemical and Biological Warfare Research at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, for many years, and later worked as Director of Missile and Satellite Development at the Navy Propellant Division, Indian Head, Maryland.” Dr Layton donated over a quarter of a million dollars to Jim Jones.

Jim Jones (left) seen here with Richard Dwyer (far right) in Jonestown. Image credit: Jonestown Institute. Source: wiki commons

Richard Dwyer was the embassy official who accompanied Leo Ryan to Jonestown. According to investigative reporter Jack Anderson, Dwyer had been identified as a CIA operative a decade earlier in the East German publication “Who’s who in the CIA”. It is common practice around the world for governments to plant intelligence operatives in embassies under diplomatic cover. When he was asked if he was a CIA operative, Dwyer answered “no comment”. Given his lack of confirmation either way, his CIA status remains unclear, although another likely possibility is that he was a state department intelligence operative.

Ryan’s aide Joseph Holsinger reported that he had been tipped off by a White House official in the Congressional liaison office about Ryan’s murder. The official provided an accurate report of the number of dead at the airstrip (before it became public) and said the information came from “a CIA report from the scene”. Holsinger believed the CIA agent providing that report was Dwyer.

Dwyer survived the airstrip shooting and apparently tended the wounded, but other survivors mentioned they did not remember seeing much of him after the shooting. Back at Jonestown, as Jim Jones called everyone together and told them the Congressman was dead, and the community now had to commit suicide, he stated: “Get Dwyer out of here before something happens to him”. When someone asked for clarification, Jones reiterated “I said Dwyer”. There was no other Dwyer in the Jonestown community. Was Jim Jones mistaken, or had Dwyer returned to Jonestown during the massacre as has been alleged? If so, why? People have speculated either way, but the only thing that remains certain is that Jim Jones was convinced Dwyer was there. He referred to him directly four times in the final recording which has been dubbed the “death tape”.

A House intelligence committee claimed there was no evidence of CIA involvement in Jonestown, but Holsinger remained convinced. His assertions about Jonestown being a covert CIA medical experiment are expanded upon in the book, “Was Jonestown a CIA Medical Experiment?: A Review of the Evidence” by Michael Meiers.

Jim Jones and the CIA

Jim Jones has an intriguing past that has given rise to suspicions about his possible connections to the CIA.

Jim Jones made his preaching debut in Richmond, where he gave sermons on the sidewalk from a young age. The Chief of Police in the town was Dan Mitrione, who would later work for the FBI, then go on to become a CIA operative in South America, under State Department cover. In this capacity he was stationed in Brazil in 1960.

When Dan Mitione was sent to South America, the CIA opened a file on Jim Jones.

In 1961, the supposedly ultra-left-wing Jim Jones (who travelled to Cuba the year before) visited Guayana, and gave sermons preaching about the dangers of American missionaries and evangelists spreading communism. This happened to occur at a time when the CIA were seeking to undermine the socialist government that had been elected there. To say that this sermon was inconsistent with Jim Jones’ pro-socialist public persona is an understatement – the Peoples Temple apparently had plans to defect to the Soviet Union – but this was not the first time Jones flagrantly contradicted his own supposed political stance. In the 1960s he was also a fundraiser for the conservative Richard Nixon, while at the same time apparently being a Soviet sympathiser.

After his anti-communist preaching in Guyana, Jones vanished. Then six months later, in April 1962, he turned up living in Brazil in Belo Horizonte, where Dan Mitrione was also living. Although publicly Jones has made critical remarks about Dan Mitrione, calling him a “vicious racist”, Jones was reported to have associated closely with Dan Mitrione’s family in Belo Horizonte. His work in that city was mysterious: he would disappear with a briefcase in the morning and return late at night. He lived in a wealthy area, while apparently being a poor religious missionary. People wondered where he was getting the money from.

To one person he claimed to be retired captain in the U.S. Navy, apparently receiving a pension. Other neighbours reported Jones had claimed he worked for the Brazilian dry-cleaning and laundry company Eureka, but the company denies it employed him. Eureka employees have suggested that Jones lied about his employment there as a cover for CIA work.

Other people in Belo Horizonte also suspected Jones was a CIA agent. A man who visited the Jones’s household regularly believed he was a spy, noting how a US consular car was often parked out the front, sometimes delivering groceries to the house. If the US government was bringing him food, was it also paying his salary? The man who observed these unusual deliveries was an informant for a local police detective who was convinced Jim Jones was a CIA agent and was seeking to confirm it. The detective died before he could conclude his investigation.

In December 1962, Jim Jones prepared to move to Rio de Janeiro. In March 1963, Dan Mitrione moved there also, nearby to Jim Jones. While in Rio that year, Jones was reported to have been working for the finance company Invesco as a salesman on commission for three months, but did not sell anything during the duration of his employment, according to the company’s former assistant manager. Investigative reporter Jim Hougan noted that commission-only sales jobs are “favorite covers for CIA agents in foreign countries… because the agent is not required to produce any cover-related work-product for his civilian boss (i.e., he doesn’t need to sell anything at all)—because he’s working strictly “on commission.” At the same time, salesmen working on commission are expected to travel, and to cultivate a broad spectrum of acquaintances.”

In 1969, Dan Mitrione moved to Uruguay, where, according to former CIA and local police officials, he trained local police in “violent techniques of torture and repression” to be used against a local left-wing guerrilla group, the Tupamaros. Allegations include that Mitrione taught them how to torture and interrogate through the use of electric shocks, and that homeless people were used as subjects for demonstration purposes and tortured to death in a soundproofed cellar of his home.

Dan Mitrione was later kidnapped and executed by the Tupamaros in 1970, and the events became the subject of the film State of Siege in which Mitrione’s name was changed.

Immediately after Mitrione’s death, the CIA closed and purged its 201-page file on Jim Jones. This has given rise to suspicions that Jim Jones was a US intelligence asset and Dan Mitrione was his handler.

Another strange anomaly is that Jim Jones had two active passports at the same time, as if there were two Jim Jones’ – one of them an imposter.

A psychiatric assessment of Jim Jones, found amongst his medical records, reportedly identified him as a “sociopath”. If he was a known sociopath, and he was, as has been alleged, also an asset of US intelligence, one wonders for what purposes he was used.

About Matthew Butler

Matthew Butler is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, an open mind and a keen interest in defending personal freedom and uncovering the truth. He's been exploring spirituality and consciousness for 10 years and writes at The Conscious Reporter about issues that affect and suppress human potential, consciousness, alternative beliefs, and the right to free expression of spirituality in the world.

51 comments

  1. What a stomach-turning read, I’m baffled by the story here and the terrible events that happened at Jonestown. I did not know much about this event before reading your article, neither of the MK-Ultra and Cointelpro operations. How the cult word came into public awareness and nowadays is so loaded with fear is much clearer to me. You really sum it up well in the following lines.

    “Since Jonestown, the way alternative spirituality has been perceived in the West has never been the same. It sparked off an enduring era of hostility towards alternative spirituality, associating the very idea of gathering in some kind of non-mainstream group as somehow sinister.”

    Society unfortunately takes mainstream information regarding cults at face value which only strengths the anti-cult movement and reinforces current beliefs. Hopefully information like this reaches people and poses a different view of spiritual groups out there.

    Yesterday RT posted the following article wherein a dangerous cult is highlighted and that there is the need for legislation to be put in place. According to the article the memo should contain, how to determine a dangerous cult and who to address to in case of any problems. (Source: http://www.rt.com/politics/316748-moscow-city-to-launch-anti )

    It immediately makes me question if this is yet another setup to further crack down on cults and religious groups, now through even further measures.

  2. If all these happen around 60’s I was wondering how these agendas must have been developed by now 50years after… Could make me doubt for everything and be sceptical towards any kind of project mass media are promoting.

  3. Jim Jones was a satanist, spook, and fraud. As do many others of satan’s breed, he infiltrated Christendom to destroy it. Dr. Stan Monteith (RIP) was in medical practice and treated someone very close to Jim Jones, who told him about the satanism. I cannot recall the exact relationship, but RadioLiberty.com sells its old programs, so you might call them; or ask Constance Cumbey, cited below. Here book is free at archive.org too.

    Jim Jones was an excellent case in point. Prior to the Guyana suicide/murder fiasco, the New Agers were most proud to claim him as their own….Of course, once Jones lost his sanity and his favorable public image, the rest of the New Agers never mentioned him again, except to point to him as an example of the dangers of religious fundamentalism.

    The beauty of the particular form of organization they have adopted is that whenever an organization or individual becomes embarrassing to them — as did Jim Jones — they can quickly close up their fish-net-type structure to exclude that person of organization as though he or it had never been a part.

    Constance Cumbey, “The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow,” pp. 59-60 and p. 114

    The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the medieval temple of the Episcopalian Archdiocese of New York, has become the mother institution of the New Age movement in the United States, whose goal is to eclipse the Age of Pisces (Christianity) with an Age of Aquarius (Lucifer).

    The presiding bishop of the cathedral, Bishop Paul Moore, whose family is heir to the Nabisco company fortune, has been in the forefront of creating this Satanic “new world order,” since at least the late 1950s, when, as a priest in Indianapolis, Indiana, he gave the “People’s Temple” cult of Jim Jones its start.

    http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_lucytrust06.htm

    Mrs. Jim Jones told The New York Times in 1977 that her husband had decided when he was 21 years old that the way to achieve his Marxist goals was to mobilize people through religion. “Jim used religion to try to get some people out of the opiate of religion,” she said, adding that he had once slammed a Bible on the table and said, “I’ve got to destroy this paper idol!” (New York Times, 11/26/78, p. 20.)

    http://www.aim.org/publications/aim_report/1978/12a.html

    On page 584, Col. Gritz outlines the true story of the Jonestown, Guyana, camp massacre, and how Jonestown was actually a tightly-run concentration camp, complete with medical and psychiatric experimentation, run with the assistance of the CIA. The people who died didn’t drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, as reported; half of them were cold-bloodedly murdered by hypodermic injection in the camp, and the other half who fled into the jungle were deliberately hunted down and shot in cold blood by British and American Special Forces troops. Col. Gritz spoke to an embittered SF Sergeant who’d taken part in the operation, and who subsequently wrote a book on the experience, entitled, “All The Niggers Are Dead!” When Col. Gritz asked him to explain the crudeness of that name, he replied, “Sir, that’s what they were. Both blacks and whites were niggers; that’s what any slave is; that’s what they were. That was our final radio message when the job we were assigned was finished. ” (From the book CALLED TO SERVE, by Special Forces Lt.Colonel “Bo” Gritz, 1991, p. 524.)

    http://www.whale.to/b/gritz.h.html

    Jon Lodeesen was Jim Jones’ CIA handler. In 1961, Lodeesen sent Jones on an urgent assignment in Hawaii. Jones’s whereabouts from 10/61 until 4/62 is unknown and his U.S. Passport for that period is conveniently unaccounted for. Jones’ U.S. Passport #0111788 is accounted for, but it was issued in his name at Indianapolis on January 30, 1962 well after and during his presence in Cuba and Hawaii.[26]

    From October 6, 1961 to April 1962, Jim Jones whereabouts is secret, which covers Obama Sr.’s sensitive presence at UH, and within days of Stanley Ann Dunham suddenly resurfacing at the University of Washington in Seattle. In fact, how Stanley Ann and Obama II got to Seattle, WA in August 1961 is an absolute mystery.[27]

    At least one source placed Jim Jones in Hawaii in October 1961 most likely at the University of Hawaii (UH) with Barrack Obama, Sr., “On what would become a two-year sojourn, Jones made his first stop in Honolulu, where he explored a job as a university chaplain…”[28] At least one other source place both Lodeesen and Jones in Hawaii from 1961 to 1962 working with the CIA station in Honolulu.[29]

    By Lodeesen being established as one of Jim Jones’ primary CIA handlers, we get a clear understanding of what his mission would have been in Hawaii- that is psychological subversive intelligence activity. Jim Jones would have clandestinely moved about UH closely monitoring rumors and gossip about Obama, Sr., Stanley Ann and Obama II.

    http://mindcontrolblackassassins.com/category/jim-jones-2/

    • Interesting. Thank you Author K, for your quotes. I was wondering if you had any information on the influences upon Leo Ryan’s wife? As the activities before and after Leo’s Ryan’s death seem peculiar, particularly her involvement with CAN and its involvement in the subsequent WACO massacre?

      • I think you might mean the Congressman’s daughter, Patricia Ryan, who was a director of CAN during the WACO siege and encouraged the use of force.

        Her strange change of face is discussed in this article, but her motives are still not clear: http://tinyurl.com/k8lvdsd

        Oddly, while one daughter was in CAN, another joined the Rajneesh movement, a group which CAN certainly would have been against.

  4. Thanks Matthew for highlighting all the discrepancies in the official story of Jonestown. The ramifications of all of this for harmless alternative spiritual groups and indeed society at large are very serious.

  5. Quite terrifying all the questions raised here. Can’t really put into words what to say. Scary. Great work for researching and sharing all this and putting it out there.

  6. Thanks for drawing all this together Matthew. Jonestown really is like the 9/11 for alternative spirituality when you look at it that way. The majority will go with the mass-media sponsored version, however the evidence is there for those who wish to see beyond the facade.

  7. Gosh. Hard to know what to even say to all of this. It’s just awful.

    Strangely enough I learned about the jim jones story in religion class in high school. There was a whole chapter section about dangerous religious cults. They definitely weren’t giving it a well rounded and objective view of what took place with jonestown or any of the other larger stories that shaped the collective perception of alternative spiritual groups. So right from an early age, learning about these things in school, you’re taught to fear small religious groups, especially if they are in rural areas. Which is a pretty disturbing perception to have, especially when there is so much more to the story as you’ve explored here. The power of media outlets is extremely sickening.

  8. Thanks very much for bringing the forgotten side of this story to light Matthew. I was also only aware of vague details about it all, so it’s definitely been eye-opening to see how much of a role clandestine interests played in the whole event.

    I was actually only recently reading about a woman called Gail Kastner, who had been a victim of MKULTRA experiments carried out in Montreal. She had been a bright nursing student at McGIll University who approached the director of the psychiatry institute at the university hospital due to some issues she had with feelings of anxiety.
    The director was actually being funded by the CIA and Canadian government to investigate de-programming and mind control. Because of the level of consent granted to medical staff in mental health treatment, conducting the experiments on patients in the psychiatry ward allowed the research to be conducted immune to any ethics commissions. The ‘treatment’ itself was horrific. The inventors of the machine used to administer the electrotherapy, for example, had stated that humans should not receive more than 26 ‘shocks’ from it. As the experiments went on people were being given 133.
    In regards to Gail Kastner, the result of the experiment was leaving her with no memories of life before she was 20 and with multiple fractures to her spine, as well as some extreme psychological trauma. She actually had been left with no memories of the experiments until much later in her life when she heard others speak out against it, and after investigating came across her medical files at the psychiatry unit.
    The Canadian government eventually compensated her for what happened: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/woman-awarded-100-000-for-cia-funded-electroshock-1.492157

    It’s so tragic that things like this can be forgotten about so easily in society and yet only a fragmented, uncritical understanding of things like Jonestown can live on. It’s definitely influenced the public narrative regarding alternative spiritual groups.
    I remember a few years ago seeing one of those crime dramas on tv where the story was obviously based on what happened in Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate. The story centred on a small, fictional religious movement that was based on extraterrestrials and involved its mostly young, female adherents taking their own lives so as to ascend to a higher plane.

    It goes through the usually process of debunking the group based on cult criteria and setting it at odds with the safety and normality of the mainstream. It’s a common myth that’s unfortunately been propagated a lot in society. I’m glad articles like this exist though to show that there’s more to a story than a simplistic retelling can show, and that very often when it comes to real tragedies it’s often the underhanded actions of hidden forces that really lead the way.

  9. Thanks Matthew for an in depth article of a topic that I was woefully ill-informed of. I was unaware of the “Kool Aid” reference to this tragedy.

    While reading your article, I was reminded of the work of one Derren Brown, and his episode called “The Heist”, which reminded me very much of tangible proofs of how MK-ULTRA should not be constrained to the domain of “conspiracy theorists”, but that such tactics are real… and demonstrable.
    In “The Heist”, Derren Brown asks for ordinary people to “volunteer” for an experiment. By the end, with a few well-timed triggers, these same ordinary people, using a fake gun, “spontaneously” hold up an armoured car and run off with the loot: 100000 pounds. Thankfully, everyone BUT the volunteers are actors. Derren Brown then “deprograms” them. This is the show:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD45A95EEB8ABDD17

    This is all quite shocking and disgusting stuff.

    Derren Brown even lists “how to”/source material for his “experiments”.
    http://derrenbrown.co.uk/the-core/#further-reading-5

    Thanks again for a great article. It’s very thought provoking stuff!

    • Very interesting share Craig.

      I had not seen the things Derren Brown has done it the last few years. It is disturbing how he is now using hypnosis, suggestion and other techniques to influence people to the degree which he does. Certainly it seems he’s breaking laws on free will. Supposedly to help them and show people the power of the human mind etc.

      But actually he is controlling people in a rather dark way, using his mind tricks and knowledge of psychology to seemingly disprove the existence of divinity, while serving his own mystical pride by impressing people, all in making an entertaining show.

      Like this show for example http://dai.ly/x15miaj

      He does it in a way that a lot can be learned from it though. But this is something that perhaps is worth its own study/article. And I don’t want to go off topic of this important subject of Jonestown.

  10. I never knew much about this atrocity, except for the media’s take on it as a ‘cult suicide’, so thanks so much for your research and explaining it in its real context, both for what took place then and its dire ramifications on spirituality now.

    Firstly I just feel very sad for all those people who lost their lives in such a horrific manner and all they had gone through, its just shocking to know the suffering and fear they would have experienced being hunted down and used as psychological guinea pigs.

    I remember watching a video of Jones town where Jim Jones was talking to the crowd of people at the time they wanted to escape and there was a woman who seemed quite alert and astute questioning Jones about what he was telling the people to do. I noticed the other people looking somewhat spaced out, while this woman was making a lot of sense. It left me with an odd impression that Jones was leading them to their death for a reason that didn’t seem spiritual at all but as if he was trying to convince them to do it. Reading this article helped me to put what I saw into context because it seemed to me he was pushing them into something they didn’t want as though he was going along with a bigger plan and they had to do it.

    Thinking about the whole fear drum roll about this horrific event and how it has caused people to fear alternative spirituality, when in fact its deeply linked to a covert secret govt operation, makes me wonder how many more tragic events have occurred in the same vein and where lives are sacrificed for an evil agenda under the false flag of ‘cult’?

    Thank you for this opportunity to step back and look at this event from a clearer perspective and to see it for what it was and its part in the war on consciousness.

  11. The fact that CIA is involved into all this and not just a fanatic group of anti-cult advocates shows that there is great focus from very high ranks of society to stamp down the free practice of spirituality.

    I wonder how many other popular alternative groups, that with their criminal actions contributed to the bigoted word cult and the war on spirituality, were also a set up. Fake cases where CIA and the media used to attack honest spiritual groups.

    I’ve read a bit about cases from Waco, to AUM Shinrikiyo and even Manson being connected to different governments.

  12. I had not looked that much into the Jonestown tragedy, but have still felt its indelible influence shaping society, in the way that people get concerned about small groups committed to spiritual ideals, gathering in country/rural areas, etc. I remember growing up that “running away and joining a cult” seemed to be a genuine concern for parents of rebellious teenagers; even a local soap opera I think had this storyline.

    This expose into the discrepancies of the official story and disturbing hidden agendas of the government show just how easily and successfully society and people’s thinking can be shaped to suit the accepted narrative. It also shows how important it is to search for the truth rather than simply accept whatever we are told uncritically. Thanks for this research and educating us on this extremely significant event in history.

  13. I had no idea about the full extent of this issue! Through other research into the anti-cult movement and the representation of spirituality in the media, the tragedy at Jonestown sparked off massive bias against alternative spirituality – there have been more than 200,000 instances of the word “cult” used to describe alternative groups in the media since then, and barely any at all before the tragedy.

    The link between the anti-cult activists and mind control experiments is really telling.

    I also wonder if Jim Jones was somehow exposed to MK ULTRA, and was in a way a type of Manchurian candidate himself. Why would they destroy his CIA file once his “handler” who was known for violent torture passed away?

  14. You digging into this has brought forth virtually unknown facts on this issue, which are so important, as they tell a very different story to the one everyone has been told by the mainstream media and society at large.
    This is so very sick and disturbing on so many different levels. It is very disturbing that this horrible deceptive event gave birth to the anti-cult movement. That says a lot. Thank you Matthew for your research and incredible work on this issue. It’s so important that deceptions like this get revealed.

  15. How appropriate. Sydney under siege by one man, maybe more, no one knows. Oh the telegraph does!
    ‘Death Cult CBD Attack’
    https://twitter.com/nicchristensen/status/544340812448804864/photo/1

    • Another good example of what to really expect from most media outlets…

      You can just sense how happy they must have been to jump at the opportunity to make a buck with that “special 2pm edition”: “Death”, “Cult”, “Attack”, “The instant we changed forever” >>> “quick buy this paper now to get your sensationalist fix while the story is hot!” >>> Nevermind what’s really going on — we’ll figure it out later (maybe)…

    • Apparently it’s now come out that guy was not part of IS and was acting on his own, that the flag was not even an IS flag as claimed in the Telegraph article. Seeing this unfold in Australia, I got the nasty feeling that this incident, which is a tragedy in itself and has ended with three people dead, will somehow be used to further remove people’s freedoms.

      In newspapers in Melbourne, there were comments, even before the siege became fatal, about how we should expect more of these attacks from lone wolf terrorists. It’s a very similar story to the way all alternative spirituality is demonised because of a miniscule number of dangerous groups. When articles like this show that there is more to the official story than meets the eye, you can’t help but get suspicious about the motives behind it all.

    • On twitter, Rupert Murdoch came out praising the Telegraph’s coverage of this issue too.

  16. Hey Matt, thanks for writing this, very interesting. I never knew about the origin of that kool-aid comment before reading this. I had previously heard it jokingly used in spiritual groups I have been a part of. It’s right what you say that people who don’t even really know what went on (I guess only a select few know the whole story) still use the mass media version of events as a bias for how they view spiritual groups. People are very skeptical as a starting point and can very easily label a very innocent gathering of people with similar interests as a “cult”. I recently watched a documentary on the Waco incident and seems like a lot of shady things happened there too.

  17. Wow. Matthew. What an important article. It is crazy how much the fear of cults/small religious groups in our society has been manufactured. I thought that these anti-cult activists were blowing things out of proportion highlighting extreme cases like this supposed mass suicide and bunching them together with all other small groups making all small cults or non-mainstream groups seem dangerous. But your article has really opened my eyes. It’s worse than I thought. This doesn’t surprise me one bit, but I am really saddened to see what you have brought to light here. Thanks for doing this. I hope people can find your article and attempt to think for themselves rather than just believe everything they are spoon-fed by the media.

    I really like this line and follow your logic….things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm……..

    “…How could leaders of small religious groups have the power and sophistication to perform mind control when the US government supposedly could not?…”

    Good Point.

  18. It makes my skin crawl every time people make the casual “don’t drink the kool-aid” joke … It actually makes me shudder, reminding me how blinded we are as a society because of the conditioning we’ve been exposed to via the media and these government agencies (and whoever is their mouthpiece of the day) such that most people know nothing about these terrible crimes committed and covered up by the very people we “elect” to manage our affairs, and instead the masses are only able to perpetuate the whole “dangerous cult” narrative and spread mass hysteria around anything unfamiliar or new in the realm of alternative spiritual beliefs.

    Thank you for the well put together research on this, Matthew — hopefully it will help more people come to critically evaluate these age old myths and stereotypes, and open their eyes to the fact that religion or spirituality had very little to do with the terrible events at Jonestown, and that the real danger is much closer to home than we think. Instead, we should really examine the actions and motives of those in power (and especially those with an interest of covering up the murder of 900 people in the span of a few days…).

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this:

    “Why was the threat of being brainwashed by religious “cults” being hyped by people directly involved in government mind control research? … if the CIA’s story is taken at face value – that the agency was unable to control people’s minds when it had virtually unlimited funds, secrecy, top scientists, drugs, sophisticated technology, and electroshock “therapy” at its disposal – how was it plausible to also claim that leaders of small, poorly resourced, spiritual groups with no scientific expertise were able to? How could leaders of small religious groups have the power and sophistication to perform mind control when the US government supposedly could not?”

    • This is the kind of results you get from that conditioning, where people even go as far as making fun of a tragedy like this, and people who see the sign (who aren’t appalled by it) are probably like ‘yeah, all those crazy religious / spiritual people that killed themselves”

      • Oh that’s terrible… How can people make fun of a massacre like this…?

        Thanks David for bringing this one to the surface.. That’s really, really disturbing.

      • 0_O ?!? That’s just not right…

      • The loss of nearly 1000 lives in such a horrific tragedy gives this company the slogan they need to sell their drink, now that is a tragedy of tragedies.

        Its like the people who were made out to be a cult scapegoat lost their lives and their human-ness to the rest of the world, who sees them less human and unworthy of dignity. I don’t think people really realise how much the anti -cult movement dehumanises people and how we as people of this earth lose our humanity because of it.

        Very sad.

  19. Jonestown and drinking the kool-aid have become etched in our collective consciousness as symbols of sinister fringe cults. I think most people using the “kool-aid” expression probably don’t even know where it comes from.

    Even just as an example of media manipulation and demonization of alternative spiritual groups, this terrible story would be worthy of study. When you add in the possibilities of CIA infiltration, MK-Ultra experimentation, and the sad potential of the assassination of Congressman Ryan (who sounds like a rare example of an honest politician) then the story takes on whole new dimensions.

    Although it seems like ultimately we don’t know for sure what was behind it, it seems we can be fairly certain that something terrible happened in Jonestown and that it wasn’t just the result of meekly brainwashed sheep drinking the kool-aid. Hopefully one day the full truth will be exposed.

    In the meantime, an enduring tragedy of the whole affair is the multitude of harmless spiritual groups and practitioners that face discrimination, prejudice, and fear because of the powerful Jonestown archetype.

  20. Thanks very much for putting all that together Matthew. I had heard and seen some of it before, but to see it all packaged together really hits that sad point home – yes, Jones himself seemed quite “off,” but at the same time, how anyone can’t see that there is something far deeper and more sinister to the whole thing is beyond me. It is such a shame that this tragedy has been used to shape the public’s view of and/or attack any alternative spiritual group for so many years, when really the heart of the issues had little if anything to do with that at all. Worse still is how, as you mentioned, these groups have absolutely nothing to do with this whatsoever, yet they get compared to and thought of in the same way. I like the quote you’ve got there from Tim Carter – that about sums it up very well doesn’t it.

  21. I just had a look at the picture of the MK-Ultra 10 years old at the beginning of the article.. She is just a child! How can anyone in the name of science make her go through torture to the point of losing her memory!?! These are despicable acts ordered and conducted by the US government. Whoever was behind this is just pure evil…

    Matthew, thank you SO MUCH for researching and documenting all this information. It would have been quite sickening to unravel. Per the reports 1,000 people were murdered, and only 2 committed suicide, yet all I had ever heard about was the so-called ‘mass suicide’. What i’m amazed too was the amount of psychedelics found there.. I know it was the 70’s but it had to come from somewhere, imported and supplied. And that may even be yet another clue to where it came from.

    How laughable indeed it is that the CIA claimed all these brainwashing horrors experiment did not work yet ‘they’ want you to believe that minority religious movements are capable of doing so!?! It just shows again how adamant that agenda against spirituality is but like it states in the article sadly the population is drinking the kool-aid by accepting what people behind the scenes are wanting people to accept..

    Seeing how the only too recent and highly redacted torture report came out (based on 6 million entries..) in the USA – it is horribly realistic to doubt the words of the CIA and FBI stating they are no longer conducting MK-Ultra or into placing people into organizatiinns to disrupt and provoke the outcome of such organizations.

    This reminds me of a protest I attended in San Francisco. It was all very peaceful, even though hundreds of thousands gathered and walked against the war in Iraq. As we passed next to The Chronicle (Newspaper office) I was shoved from behind and a man all dressed in black commando came out of nowhere and threw and lit a cocktail molotov at the lone cop (who was thankfully wearing a face shield and compact vest) standing at the entrance under the security camera. I tried to go and help out the cop but was pulled out by a friend who kept me and got me out of the scene. The man dressed in black had too much cool (he could not lit the cocktail right away), was too agile, too swift and obviously knew where the cop was. In one second he changed the peaceful protest into something murderous and evil by trying to set a man on fire. I always felt that this was no coincidence. his clothes were not normal clothes either of someone simply dressed in black. it had the whole feel of a military response. Of course I’l never know the truth about it, but I never believed it was simply an anarchist doing it either. I have been in other protests and seen anarchists before – nope that person was not ‘it’.

  22. Nasty. I’ve never heard about this before, but it sounds like something really fishy, with too many connections to the secret operations to be overlooked. I mean, if we just theoretically imagine Jim Jones was a part of the secret government/CIA plan, then it could have been something like this: To gather as many people there as possible, under the pretext of social justice and religious feelings, a lot of poor people too that maybe saw it as an escape from their conditions, and then sacrifice those people to fuel the agendas of “dangerous cults” and consequent war against alternative spirituality.

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