Justin Hienz


Justin Hienz

Justin Hienz is a subject matter expert on religious extremism, terrorist messaging and homeland security strategic communications. He is a Fellow at the University of Southern California Safe Communities Institute and a counterterrorism researcher working with the National Center for Risk & Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In his research into homegrown violence and religious extremism, Hienz works with the Somali-American community in Minneapolis-St. Paul. In 2015, SCI Director Dr. Erroll Southers and Hienz conducted a CREATE field study, “Foreign Fighters: Terrorist Recruitment and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programs in Minneapolis-St. Paul,” investigating ISIS recruitment and radicalization in the Twin Cities and the organizations working to address extremist threats.

Hienz is the founder and owner of Cogent Writing, LLC, a Washington, DC-based strategic communications company working with the homeland security community. Previously, Hienz worked with the homeland security strategic communications practice of a DC-public relations firm. Before that, he was the editor and technical writer for a security consulting firm in the Middle East providing risk mitigation and security vulnerability assessments to domestic and international clients.

Hienz is the co-author of “What Makes Them Do It? Individual-Level Indicators of Extremist Outcomes,” published in The Handbook of the Criminology of Terrorism (Wiley 2016). He is also the Executive Editor of Security Debrief, a blog on homeland and national security. Hienz holds Master of Arts degrees in journalism and religious studies from the University of Missouri.

Officer Spotlight - El Monte Police Chief Ben Lowry was a 20-year law enforcement veteran who was appointed to lead the El Monte Police Department in June 2022. Tragically, Chief Lowry passed away in October. He was 45. Thank you Chief Lowry for your service. Read more.