By Alessandra Prentice

LONDON (Reuters) - Three Islamist militants accused of plotting attacks in Britain tried to raise funds for their bombing campaign by trading stolen charity money on the foreign exchange market, a court heard on Tuesday.

The three men from Birmingham in central England were arrested with several others on terrorism charges in September last year as part of a wider crackdown following the 2005 bomb attacks in London that killed 52 people.

The trio, on trial in London accused of being central figures in a suicide bomb plot, tried to raise money to finance a shop as a "cover" to recruit others to their cause, prosecutor Brian Altman told the jury.

He said the defendants had asked an associate, Rahin Ahmed, to set up a currency trading account using 14,500 pounds ($23,200) they had amassed posing as volunteer fundraisers for a Muslim charity.

British-born Ashik Ali, 27, Irfan Khalid, 27,and Irfan Naseer, 31, have all pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.

The three appeared relaxed in the glass-fronted dock, occasionally flicking through ring-binders of the prosecutor's evidence and exchanging words quietly with each other.

Prosecutors said transcripts of covertly recorded conversations would form the bulk of their evidence.

"We're planning soon to open a shop ... obviously we're gonna need money innit," Naseer was quoted as saying in one recorded conversation, according to a written transcript provided by the prosecutor.

The court heard how the defendants started doubting Ahmed's trading abilities after it transpired he had lost more than 9,000 pounds, blaming "troubles in Europe".

Jurors at Woolwich Crown Court were told how the men had worried that the locations of militant camps in Asia might be revealed by four other men Naseer allegedly helped send to Pakistan for training.

"They'll arrest all the brothers' man, all their commando kit, all their weapons ... millions worth of weapons," the transcript quoted Naseer as telling another defendant.

The trial continues.

(Editing by Maria Golovnina)