Seventeen more Peoples Temple members, including several reputed "security guards" feared by Jonestown dissidents and defectors, returned to the United States yesterday from Guyana.
The group was accompanied by six armed skymarshals, brought down for the flight after a Pan American pilot refused Sunday to transport the group without protection from federal guards.
A number of Peoples Temple members and former members have gone "underground" in recent days to protect themselves from the threat they believe is posed by some of those returning as well as from temple loyalists within the United States.
Tight security ringed New York City's Kennedy Airport as the Pan Am plane touched down last night. Federal officials entered the plane and took the survivors-16 men and one women-to an undisclosed location for questioning.
At an airport news briefing. FBI spokesman Terry Knowles said, "We will interrogate these passengers and in the eventuality of any probable cause (of criminal activity) we will present the evidence to the United States attorney."
Among those returning last night were Timothy Glen Jones and James W. Jones Jr., believed to be adopted sons of the Peoples Temple leader, the Rev. Jim Jones. Others included several members of the Jonestown basketball team, which doubled as an armed security force, according to survivors.
[Meanwhile, Mark Lane, an attorney retained by Jones, is bargaining with federal officials, for immunity for a key Jones aide, the Los Angeles Times reported. The aide, Terry Buford, is believed to have handled sensitive financial matters for the temple and to have had unlimited access to cult documents. Lane also broached the subject of immunity for himself on two occasions, the Times reported.]
About 36 temple members remain in Georgetown, Guyana. A few are survivors of the fatal attack on a party led by Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.). A handful are survivors of the forced mass suicide that followed the attack on Nov. 18.
Most were at the temple headquarters in Georgetown when both events occurred, either because they were stationed there at the moment by Jones, were numbers of the basketball squad or were there for medical treatment.
Most of those now remaining are thought to be material witnesses to these events and to the murders of four people at the temple headquarters that occurred simultaneously. Guyanese police are detaining them during the investigation and trials stemming from the Jonestown incidents.
"I'm very apprehensive," one departing member, Bobby Stroud, 19, told the Association Press as he boarded the Pan Am jet. "I just keep wondering how the United States is going to react to us. I was born there. It is my home and I have a lot of people I care about there.
"At this point, everywhere we go, people are going to know what we are, where we're from. People are going to know we're from the Peoples Temple, Jonestown . . . So I'll just try to disappear in the city for a while and get a job just go undercover for a while."
The FBI is "interviewing all people arriving back in the United States associated with the Peoples Temple, as potential witnesses" to recent events in Guyana, according to the bureau's Quentin Ertel. "We have no arrest warrants, he said.
At least five of the men named in the ambush on Ryan's party-Robert Kice, Tom Kice, Joe Wilson, Albert Touchette and Ron Talley-have been confirmed dead by body identification experts in Delaware.
The other three are believed to be dead though no positive identification has been made.