In 1978, the FBI’s office in suburban Long Island created and oversaw a sting operation called “Abscam“, which was initially intended to investigate theft, forgery, and stolen art. The FBI employed a person by the name of Melvin Weinberg, who was a convicted swindler, international con artist, and informant, as well as his girlfriend, Evelyn Knight, to help plan and conduct the operation. The two were facing a prison sentence at the time, and in exchange for their help, the FBI agreed to let them out on probation. For the sting operation, the FBI created a fake company called Abdul Enterprises (Servant-of-Enterprises) in which FBI employees posed as fictional Arab sheikhs led by owners Kambir Abdul Rahman and Yassir Habib, who had millions of dollars to invest in the United States.
When one of the forgers under investigation suggested to the sheikhs that they invest in casinos in New Jersey and that licensing could be obtained for a price, the Abscam operation was re-targeted toward political corruption. Each congressman who was approached would be given a bribe in exchange for “private immigration bills” to allow foreigners associated with Abdul Enterprises into the country and for building permits and licenses for casinos in Atlantic City, among other investment arrangements.
The casino projects involved were the Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City, the Dunes Hotel and Casino (Atlantic City), the Penthouse Boardwalk Hotel and Casino, and the sheikh’s fictional casino. The first political figure caught in the phony investment scheme was Camden mayor Angelo Errichetti. In exchange for monetary kickbacks, Errichetti told the sheikhs’ representatives, “I’ll give you Atlantic City.” Errichetti helped to recruit several government officials and United States congressmen who were willing to grant political favors in exchange for monetary bribes (originally $100,000 but then reduced to $50,000). If this story sounds familiar, it might be that it was the premise for the movie American Hustle.
The FBI recorded each money exchange and, for the first time in American history, surreptitiously videotaped government officials accepting bribes. In total more than 30 political figures were investigated, resulting in the conviction of six members of the House of Representatives and one US senator.
Requirements for a Sting
Today if the FBI chooses to set up a sting operation to go after a suspect, there are a number of steps they need to take. The first thing is that they would need to obtain a warrant. To obtain the warrant, they will have to show probable cause, as well as outline the scope of the operation and the evidence that they will be allowed to collect.
Probable cause is a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed and that the warrant is necessary to gather evidence to build a case against the suspect in connection with the crime. The judge will review the evidence presented by the FBI to determine if probable cause exists. If the judge determines that probable cause exists, the warrant will be issued. Otherwise, the judge can deny the warrant if the prosecution can’t show probable cause, and the FBI will not be allowed to proceed with its operation.
The outline of the sting operation and the evidence that can be collected has to also be approved by a U.S. Attorney in advance, ensuring that it is in compliance with federal law. Also, during the sting operation, the judge will observe the operation to ensure that it is conducted in alignment with the constitutional rights of the suspect. The sting operation is not allowed to violate the defendant’s rights or exceed the scope of the warrant.
As the sting is being conducted, a judge reviews the evidence collected to determine that it is admissible in court. If charges are brought against the defendant, the case will proceed to court, and the evidence from the sting operation will be used to prosecute the defendant. Assuming all the evidence is above board and ironclad, the suspect will be found guilty and judged accordingly.
Satan’s Sting Operation
This is similar to how things unfold between humans and Satan in this world. When God commanded the angels to fall prostrate before Adam, all agreed except for Satan (Iblees). When questioned why he refused, his justification was that he thought he was better than Adam. Then when he was exiled from God’s kingdom, he asked for an opportunity to prove his point and show that the human being is unappreciative, and God granted him this authority.
[7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators.
[7:12] He said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?” He said, “I am better than he; You created me from fire and created him from mud.”
[7:13] He said, “Therefore, you must go down, for you are not to be arrogant here. Get out; you are debased.”
[7:14] He said, “Grant me a respite until the Day of Resurrection.”
[7:15] He said, “You are granted a respite.”
[7:16] He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray, I will skulk for them on Your straight path.
[7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”
(١١) وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُنْ مِنَ السَّاجِدِينَ
(١٢) قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ
(١٣) قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَنْ تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ
(١٤) قَالَ أَنْظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
(١٥) قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ
(١٦) قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
(١٧) ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
Satan’s aim in this world is to prove his point that the human being is unappreciative and therefore does not deserve the status they were given. Thus, Satan created a narrative and now has to provide the facts for his claim. In this scenario, Satan behaves as a prosecutor in the court of God against the human being.
The tactic that Satan utilizes is that he will come to the human being from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left. So, in essence, Satan is granted the authority by God to carry out a sting operation against the human being in an attempt to try to catch them red-handed of being unappreciative.
Satan attempts to find reasons to make claims against the human e.g., this human loves money too much, this human only worships God conditionally, this human would renounce God under specific situations.
Once Satan has demonstrated justification for his claims showing probable cause, then he is allowed to carry out his sting operation. God grants him authority and also restricts the bounds of what he is allowed to do to prove his case.
[22:53] He thus sets up the devil’s scheme as a trial for those who harbor doubts in their hearts, and those whose hearts are hardened. The wicked must remain with the opposition.
لِيَجْعَلَ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ فِتْنَةً لِلَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَفِي شِقَاقٍ بَعِيدٍ
The ideal example of this is Job.
[38:41] Remember our servant Job: he called upon his Lord, “The devil has afflicted me with hardship and pain.”
[38:42] “Strike the ground with your foot. A spring will give you healing and a drink.”
[38:43] We restored his family for him; twice as many. Such is our mercy; a reminder for those who possess intelligence.
[38:44] “Now, you shall travel the land and preach the message, to fulfill your pledge.” We found him steadfast. What a good servant! He was a submitter.
(٤١) وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا أَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الشَّيْطَانُ بِنُصْبٍ وَعَذَابٍ
(٤٢) ارْكُضْ بِرِجْلِكَ هَٰذَا مُغْتَسَلٌ بَارِدٌ وَشَرَابٌ
(٤٣) وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُمْ مَعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِنَّا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
(٤٤) وَخُذْ بِيَدِكَ ضِغْثًا فَاضْرِبْ بِهِ وَلَا تَحْنَثْ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ
(٤٥) وَاذْكُرْ عِبَادَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ أُولِي الْأَيْدِي وَالْأَبْصَارِ
In the Bible we read the following from the book of Job.
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. 4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. 6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.…
2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” 4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
In 38:32, we see Solomon missed his afternoon prayer because of his horses. To nullify Satan’s possible claim that Solomon loved his horses more than loving God, he got rid of his horses. Solomon and Job represent both ends of the testing spectrum. We are put to the test through wealth, health, or lack thereof, to see if we worship God alone under all circumstances.
[38:30] To David we granted Solomon; a good and obedient servant.
[38:31] One day he became preoccupied with beautiful horses, until the night fell.
[38:32] He then said, “I enjoyed the material things more than I enjoyed worshiping my Lord, until the sun was gone.
[38:33] “Bring them back.” (To bid farewell,) he rubbed their legs and necks.
[38:34] We thus put Solomon to the test (fit’na); we blessed him with vast material wealth, but he steadfastly submitted.*
(٣٠) وَوَهَبْنَا لِدَاوُودَ سُلَيْمَانَ نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ
(٣١) إِذْ عُرِضَ عَلَيْهِ بِالْعَشِيِّ الصَّافِنَاتُ الْجِيَادُ
(٣٢) فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَحْبَبْتُ حُبَّ الْخَيْرِ عَنْ ذِكْرِ رَبِّي حَتَّىٰ تَوَارَتْ بِالْحِجَابِ
(٣٨:٣٣) رُدُّوهَا عَلَيَّ فَطَفِقَ مَسْحًا بِالسُّوقِ وَالْأَعْنَاقِ
(٣٤) وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا سُلَيْمَانَ وَأَلْقَيْنَا عَلَىٰ كُرْسِيِّهِ جَسَدًا ثُمَّ أَنَابَ
Another example of a sting operation carried out by Satan under the supervision of God can be seen in the incident with David and the disputing litigants.
[38:21] Have you received news of the feuding men who sneaked into his sanctuary?
[38:22] When they entered his room, he was startled. They said, “Have no fear. We are feuding with one another, and we are seeking your fair judgment. Do not wrong us, and guide us in the right path.
[38:23] “This brother of mine owns ninety-nine sheep, while I own one sheep. He wants to mix my sheep with his, and continues to pressure me.”
[38:24] He said, “He is being unfair to you by asking to combine your sheep with his. Most people who combine their properties treat each other unfairly, except those who believe and work righteousness, and these are so few.” Afterwards, David wondered if he made the right judgment. He thought that we were testing him. He then implored his Lord for forgiveness, bowed down, and repented.
[38:25] We forgave him in this matter. We have granted him a position of honor with us, and a beautiful abode.
[38:26] O David, we have made you a ruler on earth. Therefore, you shall judge among the people equitably, and do not follow your personal opinion, lest it diverts you from the way of GOD. Surely, those who stray off the way of GOD incur severe retribution for forgetting the Day of Reckoning.
وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ نَبَأُ الْخَصْمِ إِذْ تَسَوَّرُوا الْمِحْرَابَ
إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَىٰ دَاوُودَ فَفَزِعَ مِنْهُمْ قَالُوا لَا تَخَفْ خَصْمَانِ بَغَىٰ بَعْضُنَا عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَنَا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تُشْطِطْ وَاهْدِنَا إِلَىٰ سَوَاءِ الصِّرَاطِ
إِنَّ هَٰذَا أَخِي لَهُ تِسْعٌ وَتِسْعُونَ نَعْجَةً وَلِيَ نَعْجَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ فَقَالَ أَكْفِلْنِيهَا وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ
قَالَ لَقَدْ ظَلَمَكَ بِسُؤَالِ نَعْجَتِكَ إِلَىٰ نِعَاجِهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْخُلَطَاءِ لَيَبْغِي بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَقَلِيلٌ مَا هُمْ وَظَنَّ دَاوُودُ أَنَّمَا فَتَنَّاهُ فَاسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُ وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ
فَغَفَرْنَا لَهُ ذَٰلِكَ وَإِنَّ لَهُ عِنْدَنَا لَزُلْفَىٰ وَحُسْنَ مَآبٍ
يَادَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَىٰ فَيُضِلَّكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ
God willing, we should always beware of the devil’s schemes because, like all sting operations, we may not always know when one is being conducted.
[41:36] When the devil whispers an idea to you, you shall seek refuge in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
وَإِمَّا يَنْزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
[23:97] Say, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the whispers of the devils.
[23:98] “And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they come near me.”
(٩٧) وَقُلْ رَبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ
(٩٨) وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَنْ يَحْضُرُونِ
Choose God as Your DEFENSE ATTORNEY
But when we inevitably find ourselves in a sting operation of Satan, it is always good to have the strongest and best defense lawyer. The word wakil ( وَكِيل ) comes from the root ( و ك ل ) and means one who is an advocate, representative, or agent. It is also used for someone who is a lawyer or defender e.g., a defense attorney. In this world, if Satan is the prosecutor, then God is the defense attorney. He is the advocate for the righteous, and if we want to win our case against Satan, there is no better defender than God.
[3:173] When the people say to them, “People have mobilized against you; you should fear them,” this only strengthens their faith and they say, “GOD suffices us; He is the best Defender.”
(١٧٣) الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
[4:81] They pledge obedience, but as soon as they leave you, some of them harbor intentions contrary to what they say. GOD records their innermost intentions. You shall disregard them, and put your trust in GOD. GOD suffices as an advocate (defender).
وَيَقُولُونَ طَاعَةٌ فَإِذَا بَرَزُوا مِنْ عِنْدِكَ بَيَّتَ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْهُمْ غَيْرَ الَّذِي تَقُولُ وَاللَّهُ يَكْتُبُ مَا يُبَيِّتُونَ فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
[3:121] Recall that you (Muhammad) were among your people when you set out to assign to the believers their positions for battle. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
[3:122] Two groups among you almost failed, but GOD was their Lord. In GOD the believers shall trust.
(١٢١) وَإِذْ غَدَوْتَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ تُبَوِّئُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَقَاعِدَ لِلْقِتَالِ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
(١٢٢) إِذْ هَمَّتْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ تَفْشَلَا وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّهُمَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
[4:132] To GOD belongs everything in the heavens and the earth, and GOD is the only Protector (Defender).
(١٣٢) وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
[73:9] Lord of the east and the west; there is no other god besides Him. You should choose Him as your advocate (defender).
(٩) رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيلًا