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FBI names new head of Chicago office

Robert Holley take over Chicago FBI office as new Special Agent Charge October.

Robert Holley, to take over Chicago FBI office as the new Special Agent in Charge in October.

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Updated: September 20, 2013 2:13PM

The Chicago FBI has snagged one of the agency’s premier counterterrorism experts to head up the office here.

In October, Robert Holley will be joining the Chicago office as the new Special Agent in Charge, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. Holley is replacing Cory Nelson, who spent just seven months in Chicago before announcing his retirement.

Holley, 55, previously worked in Chicago, leading counterterrorism efforts when the office brought one of its most significant terror cases — against David Headley, who played a central role in the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Headley was in the midst of plotting another attack in Denmark when the FBI intercepted the operation and turned Headley into a critical witness for the government.

“Bob Holley will be terrific. He is smart, practical, hard-working and gets along with people,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, former U.S. Attorney in Chicago during the Headley investigation. “He has the experience of working side by side with federal, state and local partners as well as prosecutors. And he has the experience supervising important programs at headquarters. Working with Bob was great. The FBI Chicago will be in great hands.”

Joseph C. Ways, who heads the Chicago Crime Commission and is a former FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Chicago, said Holley already has a leg up by having spent time in the city.

“He’s got the lay of the land of Chicago already. He certainly knows his way around, not only the city, but the bureaucracy of Chicago on every level,” Ways said. “He’s well experienced in counterterrorism investigations, not only handling them but conducting them. I think he’s going to be a good addition to Chicago.”

According to the FBI, Holley in 2010 was appointed to serve as section chief in the Counterterrorism Division, “where he was responsible for all U.S.-based international terrorism investigations,” according to the FBI’s biography.

Holley then briefly headed the Indianapolis office before returning to Washington last year where he was named deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

“Mr. Holley has deployed to Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Tanzania, and Israel in support of the global war on terrorism,” according to the FBI.

The announcement comes as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office said Thursday that U.S. Attorney nominee Zach Fardon’s name will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and is expected to be confirmed soon.

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