Client’s Challenge: A Troubling Pattern of Behavior

When an employee at one of the major retail chains in the United States erupted into a verbal altercation with a coworker, an internal investigation quickly uncovered several employees who had expressed significant concerns in the past about what was clearly a troubling pattern of behavior.

The company’s internal threat assessment team authorized Hillard Heintze to conduct an investigation into the subject’s background, including a meticulous, open-source social media analysis to assess patterns in his interests, motivations and social interactions to gain a more complete picture and potentially some life-saving insights.

Our Solution: Examining the Subject’s Footprint for Red Flags

Our team quickly determined that the subject’s online presence included details about his struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, belief in conspiracy theories and hostile ideologies, interpersonal problems and military training. The combination of these appeared to align significantly with the profile of an individual vulnerable to recruitment by a terrorist organization or self-radicalization.

Additional evidence included a criminal case against him for misdemeanor domestic battery; multiple complaints from neighbors to the local police; membership over many years in a forum of Islamic fundamentalism; and a Facebook post referencing a recent visit to Pakistan.

Impact on the Client: Evidence of Potential Radicalization

Based on the advice of our workplace violence prevention team, the client addressed this matter immediately in two ways. First, it alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the subject and provided the evidence it had uncovered of potential radicalization. Second, the company decided to terminate the man’s employment given his behavior and failure to comply with corporate policies. Anticipating that he could respond violently, the client took safety precautions at the separation meeting with the subject. It also provided him with a six-month package to assist his transition and continued mental health treatment.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“Many cases like this turn out to be benign. Not this one. We felt an acute and immediate concern for the safety and security of the subject’s coworkers, family and people in his community.

Given the growing risks and concerns about terrorism here in the United States, it was vital to know that his mental health issues were appropriately addressed and his behavior documented, with the hope that he would be prevented from conducting violence at home or abroad.”

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