‘Allahu Akbar’ cry at terror drill was scripted, police admit
Greater Manchester police have admitted that use of the phrase “Allahu Akbar” was a planned part of a terror training exercise at one of the UK’s biggest shopping centres.
Police were criticised for explicitly linking the drill at the Trafford Centre inManchester to Islam when a fake suicide bomber shouted “Allahu Akbar” before appearing to detonate a device. The phrase translates as “God is greatest” and is used in prayer by Muslims.
On Tuesday Asst Ch Con Garry Shewan apologised for the use of the phrase. On Wednesday police said they had always planned to use the phrase in the operation, which took five months to organise, and that it was not introduced by the individual playing the part of the terrorist.
More than 800 volunteers took part in the training exercise on Monday night, which was designed to be similar to the Paris and Brussels atrocities.
“It is a necessity for agencies, including the police, to train and prepare using exercises such as this, so that we would be in the best possible position to respond in the event that the unthinkable happened and an attack took place.”
He went on: “The scenario for this exercise is based on a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation and the scenario writers have centred the circumstances around previous similar attacks of this nature, mirroring details of past events to make the situation as real life as possible for all of those involved.
“However, on reflection, we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.”
One of the people who complained, Siema Iqbal, a Manchester GP, tweeted to Greater Manchester police demanding an explanation for why the terrorist in the training exercise had to be Muslim.
Erinma Bell, another doctor, retweeted Iqbal, adding: “Good question. We need to move away from stereotypes if we want to achieve real learning. A terrorist can be anyone.”
The Community Safety Forum, an anti-Islamophobia organisation, said: “This sort of thing panders to stereotypes and further divides us. It will increase anti-Muslim hate crime.”
Tony Lloyd, the mayor of Greater
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