A 23-year-old Libyan named locally as Alaedeen Sicri, also known as Ala Zakry, is the 16th person held in connection with last Monday’s suicide bomb attack.
The latest arrest came as new CCTV footage of evil killer Salman Abedi was released showing him shopping at a convenience store just hours before he blasted 22 people to death at a gig.
Sicri is thought to have arrived in Britain around five years ago. He enrolled at a flight school near his flat in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, more than 250 miles from Manchester. He was held in a dramatic early-hours swoop.
Charlie Foss, 22, and his pregnant girlfriend were house-sitting the flat next door when armed police arrived.
He said: “I woke up about one or two after I heard screaming and shouting.”
Sicri, who is said to have struggled to find airline work after qualifying as a pilot, was most recently running a Libyan e-commerce website from his flat.
He stayed with Jennifer Crump, 65, and husband John, 70, for more than three years before moving out to live with his western girlfriend.
Jennifer insisted Sicri never showed any signs of extremism. She said: “Every morning he’d leave looking really smart in his pilot’s uniform.
“He prayed every day, but he was never outwardly religious, there was nothing that rang any alarm bells.
“He never said anything or showed any attitude that would cause us any concern at all. I just don’t know what to think if he had something to do with this. I really hope he didn’t.
“You shudder thinking about it. Those poor children in Manchester.”
And the suspect’s mum Dr Amal Azzuz insisted her son was a “good boy” and not linked to terrorism.
She said: “We are very sorry about what happened in Manchester, we’ve no words for how bad it was. But this is how I know Ala could have nothing to do with this. He has no relation to this kind of behaviour.”
The CCTV footage of Abedi, wearing a black baseball cap, black hoodie and grey tracksuit pants and trainers, was taken at a store in Manchester. Staff said he spent £8 on tuna, almonds, and scouring pads.
Hours later he was dead, along with his innocent victims. The film has been handed to police.
Officers later searched a landfill site near a flat in Heywood Abedi rented and where he is believed to have practised with explosive material.
Police were last night quizzing a gun-toting student who mocked the 9/11 attacks on social media. Zuhair Nassrat, 19, was held on Sunday evening in an armed raid on his family home in Gorton, Manchester.
Officers carried blew open the front door to gain entry.
Nassrat is best friends with the bomber’s younger brother Hashem Abedi.
He is a keen boxer and Manchester City fan and studies criminology and law at the University of Chester. A student address linked to him in the city was also searched by anti-terror police yesterday.
But one relative said: “Zuhair is no terrorist. I’m certain he’s been caught up in all of this because Salman used to live in the house with him and his family. We were all shocked when we heard about the bombing and absolutely sick when we found out Salman was responsible.
“He used to be a normal guy, he would smoke weed and drink alcohol just like the rest of us. In 2015 when he came back from a trip to Libya to see his parents he completely changed. He started saying to all the guys that we were not proper Muslims because we were drinking and going out having fun, just as normal.”
Police also searched the family home of Khalid Taghdi, 45, who was killed by a bomb in Libya six years ago during the uprising against Gaddafi.
Neighbours said his widow Mounia, 51, and her children, aged from seven to 25, were “very friendly”.
Police confirmed nobody had been arrested during the search.
The fund launched to help those affected by the Manchester bombing is expected to top £6million tomorrow.