A Butte County judge has dismissed the case against a Chico market owner who was accused of purchasing stolen cigarettes, saying it appeared the charges were a way for the FBI to question the owner about terrorism.

“A reasonable person could draw the conclusion that this ABC undercover operation was a subterfuge for an FBI anti-terrorism investigation,” Superior Court Judge Steven J. Howell wrote in a three-page opinion issued Tuesday.

Bilal Abdul Yasin, his brother Muwaiia Abdulra Yasin, 35, and a co-worker, Alberto Cabrera, 39, were arrested in March 2005 for allegedly purchasing dozens of cartons of cigarettes from an undercover agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control who said the cigarettes were stolen, prosecutors said.

However, once they were arrested, FBI agents questioned Bilal Yasin about connections to his Palestinian homeland, his Muslim religion, his relationship with other Middle Eastern shopkeepers in Butte County and whether he sent money to terrorist groups, according to testimony he gave during the trial.

“I give the government the right to look at me more closely, but I don’t give them the right to go over the line,” said Bilal Yasin, the 37-year-old Palestinian-born owner of Chinca’s Market.

In his three-page ruling, Howell said the FBI refused to turn over court-ordered documents which could have provided Bilal Yasin a fair trial.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.