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.