Associated Press, 7/18/07
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. (MORE)