Perhaps because of the timing of his assignment to Chicago -- a week before Sept. 11 -- and his background, many have watched how Fitzgerald handled terrorism cases here.
He arrived with an impressive resume, having indicted Osama bin Laden long before the Al Qaida leader was a household name. Fitzgerald prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.
In Chicago, Fitzgerald's terrorism prosecutions have ranged from homegrown plots to the more recent convictions of two Chicago men of Pakistani descent charged in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Two early high-profile cases, against Enaam Arnaout and Muhammad Salah, did not result in terrorism convictions. Arnaout, a director of a south suburban charitable foundation accused of funneling money to violent overseas organizations, pleaded guilty to racketeering and is serving a 10-year sentence.
And in the most recent terrorism case, Chicagoans David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana were charged in a conspiracy with Pakistani terrorists that resulted in the 2008 murders of nearly 200 people in Mumbai. The terrorists also planned, but did not complete, an attack on a Copenhagen newspaper staff in retaliation for a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
Headley, an admitted member of the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, pleaded guilty to helping terrorists scout locations for the Mumbai attacks and testified against his lifelong friend, Rana, who was charged with supporting the plots. Rana was convicted of supporting Headley in the Denmark plot and helping Lashkar. But a jury acquitted him of the marquee charge of supporting Headley's scouting work in the Mumbai attacks, a somewhat unsatisfying result for Fitzgerald's office.
Fitzgerald has defended the outcome many times, saying that Headley's guilty plea -- and the opportunity to mine him for details about international terrorism -- reflects the significance of the case. And while Rana was not convicted on the Mumbai charge, the jury found him guilty of supporting Lashkar, the group that pulled off the assaults. Another noteworthy aspect of the Headley-Rana case was how swiftly investigators were able to arrest the men, Fitzgerald said.
Ten years ago when he was probing terrorist activities as a federal prosecutor in New York, there was an impenetrable wall between his office and the FBI. When Headley surfaced in Chicago, federal and local cooperation was markedly improved.
"We're not walking around wondering what the bad guys we know about in our district are doing, which is how we were before 2001," Fitzgerald said.
He recently formed a section in the office that will focus on terrorism, with each attorney assigned directly to law enforcement agencies running investigations. Previously, cases were dispersed among attorneys, depending on the demands of the case. Under the new structure, the attorneys will also be assigned terror groups or types of threats.
The concept is similar to what Fitzgerald emphasized here with gang crimes over the decade. There is now more regular contact with Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies, such as monthly meetings on the most dangerous gang members and the assigning of prosecutors to geographic areas of the city so they can track trends with local police.
"I think he understood the violence problem in Chicago," former Chicago police Superintendent Phil Cline said Tuesday. "It was the first time I had seen a U.S. attorney take so much interest in gang cases."
Looking forward, Fitzgerald is focusing more attention on cybercrime and trade secret theft. In 2009, David Yen Lee, 52, of Taiwan, was indicted and pleaded guilty to the theft of trade secrets from a paint manufacturer.
Fitzgerald believes many more cases are out there, but that corporations are reluctant to come forward for fear that trade secrets will be revealed.
"Chicago is one of the places where it's a serious problem," he said. "We want to hear more about cyberintrusions. We want to hear more about people stealing intellectual property because it's a serious economic problem and it's a serious national security problem. We need to educate corporate America (that) ... we know how to protect them."
Fitzgerald, when asked about reaching his 10-year mark, first mentioned the 170 assistant U.S. attorneys who each day chase crimes -- from child porn to street drug sales to mortgage fraud.
It's only during major cases that the public might get to see the faces of these assistants, if they are called to the microphone at a news conference. Otherwise, everybody talks about Fitzgerald.
"When I was in New York, it was, 'The U.S. attorney's office did X, Y and Z,'" Fitzgerald said. "In Chicago it's, 'The U.S. attorney did X, Y and Z.' I am extremely grateful for the people I work with, who work really, really hard and get no credit."