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U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is taking on a courtroom role for the first time since he was the special prosecutor in the 2007 I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial in federal court in Washington, D.C. Fitzgerald joined the prosecution team Wednesday at a court hearing in the case against two alleged terrorists at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana were indicted last year on charges that they conspired with the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba in plans to kill employees at the Danish newspaper that published drawings of Allah and that they helped in reconnaissance missions for the 2008 attack in Mumbai. In the nine years that Fitzgerald has led the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, he has rarely argued in court. The last time came during the 2002 prosecution of Enaam Arnaout, who prosecutors alleged was linked to al-Qaida and charged with racketeering and other offenses. Arnaout pleaded guilty the following year before going to trial. Fitzgerald is one of the few U.S. attorneys held over from the Bush administration whom President Barack Obama has said he will keep in the post, perhaps partly because of the major case under way against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was charged in December 2008. From 2003 to 2007, Fitzgerald also headed up the Valerie Plame leak investigation, which led to the prosecution of Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Although Libby was convicted of lying to federal investigators and obstructing justice, his sentence of 30 months in prison was later commuted by President George W. Bush. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victoria Jones Peters and Daniel John Collins are prosecuting the case along with Fitzgerald. Headley’s defense lawyers are Chicago solo practitioner John Theis and Robert Seeder from the Federal Defender Program. Rana’s lawyer is Patrick Blegen of Chicago-based Blegen & Garvey.

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