The unnamed woman, who lived in the same dorm as Tsarnaev during the 2011-12 academic year, said that the 19-year-old Chechen was the most popular and apparent leader of a group of about five Russian-speaking friends.
The group included Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Robel Phillipos — the three suspects accused of disposing of evidence after the bombings and lying to police.
“They all sort of idolized Jahar,” she said, using Tsarnaev’s nickname. “I cannot speak to the nature of their relationship because of the language barrier, however I did observe that Jahar was always the leader in his group.”
The woman dated Tsarnaev for about two weeks and got to know the suspects while smoking pot and listening to music with them.
She said although she doesn’t doubt that Tsarnaev committed the act, she “just can’t see him being a radical jihadist because of the nature of who he was” and the fact that he never mentioned religion.
The same goes for Tsarnaev’s friends, who she said seemed pretty normal for college students.
“There was no indication that they were crazy at all,” she said. “They just seemed goofy, kind of lackadaisical, not interested in their studies. But, you know, whatever, it was their first semester of college.”
Aronsen notes that her account was corroborated by another former resident of the same UMass-Dartmouth dorm.
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