Prosecutor: Ex-Taliban fighter recruited in UK

A former Taliban fighter manned an Islamic bookstall while trying to drum up recruits for jihad in Afghanistan, a British prosecutor alleged Thursday.

Andrew Edis said Pakistani-born Munir Farooqi, 54, was one of several extremists who manned the bookstall in the northern English city of Manchester in the hope of enrolling holy warriors to their cause.

"This was an organized attempt taking place in Manchester to raise men for the jihad, to recruit fighters," Edis told a jury at Manchester Crown Court. He said that meant persuading people "that their religious duty requires them to fight, to kill, and to die."

Edis said the recruits would be expected to attend "training camps and battlefields abroad, principally in Afghanistan," and that, as a Taliban veteran, Farooqi would have had the "know how and contacts" to get willing fighters to the area.

But Edis said Farooqi's efforts foundered when two of his recruits turned out to be undercover policemen.

The men, identified only by the pseudonyms Ray and Simon, approached Farooqi in October 2008, pretending to be at a low ebb in their lives and interested in Islam. The officers secretly recorded him as he, his 27-year-old son Harris, and two others — British Muslim convert Matthew Newton, 29, and former youth offender Israr Malik, 22 — attempted to radicalize them, Edis said.

The men were eventually arrested in a counterterrorism operation on November 16, 2009.

All four deny the charges being leveled against them, but have yet to present their case.