- Fake 'suicide bomber' detonated explosive in the Trafford Centre, Manchester, as part of a counter-terror exercise
- Masked 'gunmen' then burst into the mall, opening fire on 'shoppers' before police and even the SAS responded
- Was all part of a massive training exercise to ensure region's emergency units are capable of responding to attack
- Before detonating his 'suicide vest', the unknown masked bomber was recorded shouting 'Allahu Akbar' four times
- Following criticism, Greater Manchester Police apologised after being asked why attacker had to be labelled Muslim
- But in 'bowing to political correctness' the force has since faced an even stronger backlash - particularly after insisting exercise was meant to mimic 'Daesh extremists'
Police were today accused of 'bowing to political correctness' after issuing a grovelling apology for allowing a mock suicide bomber to scream 'Allahu Akbar' during a terror training exercise.
Greater Manchester Police were preparing officers for a 'Daesh style' extremist assault similar to those that killed hundreds in Paris and Brussels.
Footage of the terror exercise showed a masked 'suicide bomber' storming into the Trafford Centre and yelling 'God is great' in Arabic before fireworks exploded representing his suicide belt being detonated, while 800 bloody volunteers acted out being killed or injured as armed officers swept the mall for other jihadis.
But within hours the force issued a humbling apology after being accused of Islamophobia for assuming terrorists would be Muslim.
The decision to apologise has backfired, with Twitter outraged by the constabulary's political correctness, saying they were right to make the exercise as similar to previous ISIS planned attacks such as Belgium and Paris as possible.
Police invited the media to watch the training exercise which started in the early hours of this morning.
Later they released footage of an actor playing the part of a suicide bomber and blowing himself up after shouting 'Allahu Akbar' four times.
The force has refused to reveal if the man was a serving officer.
But under pressure from critics, the force apologised, saying they acknowledged 'that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase...which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam'.
However, many felt they had over-reacted and 'folded under pressure from the PC brigade'.
Ezekiel Kensington on Twitter contacted the force saying: 'No need to apologise, you were right and followed the pattern of Brussels, Paris, Lee Rigby. PC Brigade need a reality check.'
Twitter user @LPValentine, followed suit. He said: 'Maybe in future training the suicide bomber could shout "I'm blowing myself up for a generic terrorist cause".'
Backlash: Greater Manchester Police's decision to apologise for a 'Daesh style' terrorist shouting 'Allahu Akbar' has backfired spectacularly, with thousands of commentators outraged by the constabulary's political correctness, saying they were right to make the exercise as similar to previous attacks such as Belgium and Paris as possible
Peter Palladas commented: 'And what else does an "extremist Daesh style" terrorist going to shout before detonating his bomb? Merry Christmas?'
And @andyroo2013 added: 'Well @gmpolice and other forces ignore criticism - never heard a terrorist shout avenge the Easter bunny.' (sic)
When the force was first criticised for having the mock terrorist - who police will not reveal as being an officer or an actor - shout 'Allahu Akbar', they were inundated with complaints accusing them of contributing to Islamophobia by identifying the 'attackers' as Muslim.
Manchester University Diversity Officer Ilyas Nagdee posted: 'Stupid decision by @gmpolice to decide attackers should be seen as Muslim. Maybe that's why Islamophobias gone up 300% in the UK.'
Sorry: In a statement posted online (right), Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan (left) apologised for the 'unacceptable' use of the phrase
He later added: 'The exercise was about preparation of emergency services and their responses. It did not require attackers to be seen as Muslim.'
His views were echoed by many others, angry at the perceived perception that such attacks would only be carried out by an ISIS style group.
User @Peter_A96 commented: 'Wonder what @gmpolice will have to say about the 'terrorist' shouting 'Allahu Akbar.Talk about reinforcing stereotypes.'
It was then that Greater Manchester Police issued their ill-fated apology.
In a statement posted online, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: '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 those involved.
Initial response: When the force was first criticised for having the mock terrorist - who police will not reveal as being an officer or an actor - shout 'Allahu Akbar', they were inundated with complaints accusing them of contributing to Islamophobia by identifying the 'attackers' as Muslim
'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.'
Since posting the apology online they have been flooded with Tweets from people keen to mock what is a perceived lack of backbone following the initial response to the inclusion of the phrase in the training exercise's script.
Terry Fletcher posted: 'Now @gmpolice apologise because anti-terrorism drill featured Islamic terrorist. Truly the world has gone utterly mad.'
One man, known as Michael, added: 'Why apologise? The terrorist is hardly likely to shout "Jesus loves you" before blowing the roof off.'
Reverb: Since posting the apology online the Greater Manchester Police have been flooded with Tweets from people keen to mock what is a perceived lack of backbone following the initial response to the inclusion of the phrase in the training exercise's script
The now massively controversial explosion was the first of several to be heard ringing out from Britain's second busiest shopping centre this morning as the counter terrorism training exercise got underway.
The 'suicide bomber' detonated his 'explosive' in the middle of the shopping centre, 'killing and wounding' dozens of the 800 volunteers recruited to test the emergency response to an extremist attack in the wake of ISIS led assaults on Paris and Brussels.
Victims smeared in fake blood were seen running for their lives during the mock-up, while scores more were forced to play dead as the 'terrorists' attempted to seize control of the building.
The exercise has been in the planning since December 2015 and will continue over the next two nights in separate locations - as if to mimic the horrific attack that targeted several different areas in the French capital in November last year, killing 137 people.
It involves the city's police force, working with other agencies including Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service and counter-terrorism officers to examine and evaluate the response to a major attack.
Also reported to have been involved were soldiers from the SAS.
The twilight enactment began shortly after midnight this morning, codenamed Exercise Winchester Accord, when a man dressed all in black walked in and shouted at the would be shoppers.
Seconds later an explosion rocked the food hall as he detonated a 'bomb', 'killing and wounding' many in the vicinity, all of whom were wearing ear defenders and safety glasses and had been given gruesome, blood injuries by make-up artists.
As their screams echoed through the building, a masked gunman then entered, firing a number of rounds, leaving more people 'dead and injured'.
The terror cell then continued in their attempts to maim and kill as the emergency response got underway, their targets hiding behind walls and in restaurants.
A squadron of police cars, fire engines and ambulances raced to the scene, while masked counter-terror officers made their way inside hoping to gain control and quell the deadly assault - an operation which is believed to have been ongoing until 6am.
The exercise followed similar simulations to have taken place in London, Glasgow and Essex in recent months.
Speaking ahead of the mock attack, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe said: 'This exercise is part of a national programme that has been planned extensively for five months.
'We have worked closely with intu Trafford centre and other emergency services to test our response to a major terrorist incident in a public place, which for part of this exercise is a shopping centre.
'Residents in the area may hear loud noises and see emergency services activity around intu Trafford Centre during the exercise and I can reassure people that there is no cause for concern.
However, I would still urge people to contact police if they do have any concerns or want to report anything and are not sure if it is linked to the exercise.
'Our priority is to stop terrorists from planning and orchestrating attacks and with exercises like this, we can put our response to the test in a safe environment, so we are fully prepared for a time when it may be critical.
'I want to make it clear that this is not linked to any specific terror threat or attack, but is an opportunity for us to make sure we are in the best position possible, should a terrorist attack happen in the North West.
'This exercise has allowed us to build and strengthen our relationship with intu Trafford Centre and I would like to thank them for allowing all the participants to use their centre.
Their support in the planning of this exercise demonstrates their commitment to test their response to a major incident and protect their staff and customers.'
Over the following two days the exercise will continue in locations in the North West, including Redbank Community Home, in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside on Wednesday.
Richard Paxton, General Manager of intu Trafford Centre said: 'The police and emergency services do an extremely important job keeping the public safe.
This training, planning and preparation to deal with all eventualities is essential and we had no hesitation allowing them to use our facilities for their exercise while the centre was closed.'
Any suspicious activity or behaviour can be reported to police via the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline by calling 0800 789 321. Extremist or terrorist content online can be reported at www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.