TODAY   |  April 22, 2013

Friends recall chats with Boston bombing suspect

As investigators dig into the pasts of accused Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, more information is coming to light about the suspects. NBC’s Jeff Rossen reports and talks to friends of the brothers.

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>>> we're learning more about the suspects this morning, as investigators dig into their past for clues. today jeff rossen is in boston with that angle to the story. good morning to you.

>> good morning. the bombs went off about a block from where i'm standing. police launched a major dragnet to find out whoever did it, to find the suspects and stop the violence . a lot of people thought the suspects must be on the run, they must be hiding out somewhere. but that's not the case. this morning we learned they went back to their normal lives, with the younger brother even going back to college like nothing ever happened. in the days after the bombing, suspected terrorist dzhokhar tsarnaev was hiding in plain sight. friends say the 19-year-old was back in his dorm room here at u-mass dartmouth and reportedly even went to a party with pals. his friends zack and nate saw him at the gym on tuesday, one day after the bombings.

>> went up and said hi to him. i talked about how it was crazy that we had a bombing in boston .

>> reporter: you said that to him?

>> yeah. i said it's really a tragedy. it's a sad thing.

>> reporter: he said it's sad?

>> he said it's sad. he looked me straight in the eye and looked at me.

>> reporter: the next day, dzhokhar tweeted "i'm a stress free kind of guy." his older brother phoned their father in russia to say everything's fine.

>> these two knew enough to stay in place, continue to live their lives as they normally did, nothing to attract attention to themselves.

>> reporter: the chechen brothers came here from russia ten years ago. dzhokhar was a star wrestler in high school . tamerlan was an amateur boxer and practicing muslim, who according to relatives, became deeply religious. the brothers prayed together at this mosque.

>> they never exhibited any violent behavior.

>> reporter: in 2011 , the fbi questioned tamerlan at the request of foreign authorities, who suspected he had ties to radical underground groups, but the fbi found no link to terror. then after a trip to russia last year, a play list of jihadist videos was posted on a youtube channel tamerlan apparently set up. but dzhokhar's friends say he showed no signs of extremism.

>> i can't stress enough to anyone how normal of a kid he was. and how mind blowing it is that someone so normal could live such a crazy double life almost.

>> reporter: now investigators are trying to piece this all together, and two members of congress want to know if the fbi missed something, savannah, when they questioned tamerlan just two years ago, now asking for a full review of that investigation.

>> all right, jeff rossen in boston for us this morning.