You could say, he might end up deciding the future of the Middle East.
Lebanese-born American scholar Walid Phares was Trump's campaign top adviser on national security, counter-terrorism and Middle Eastern Affairs. He is described as a neoconservative hawk, and given his important role in the campaign, will likely be rewarded with a position in the White House.
Phares immigrated to the US after the Lebanese civil war, a time when he was a member of the right-wing Lebanese Forces, and earned a PhD from the University of Miami. He has since briefed the US Congress, the European Parliament and the United Nations Security Council on matters related to international security, civil societies and democracy and Middle East conflicts. He is currently Washington's BAUI University provost and Fox News' Middle East and terrorism expert.
Despite an impressive resume, Phares' anti-Islam standpoint and politically charged past have stirred controversy. Here's what you need to know about him:
He is a Lebanese-born Maronite Christian, but Trump seems to think he's Muslim
Mother Jones pointed out that during a Fox News interview, Trump failed to correct his host's faulty assertion that Phares is Muslim, twice.
"Donald, we just talked to Walid Phares," Kilmeade said. "We talked to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser yesterday, Ambassador Khalilzad- he's done great things for this country. What do all three have in common? They're Muslims."
"Yes, that's true," Trump said.
"You don't have a problem with Muslims... In fact you just hired one, Walid Phares, to work for you." Again, Trump appeared to agree.
A polarizing past: serving the Lebanese Forces during its militia years in the Lebanese civil war
Shortly after Phares was announced as a special adviser for 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Mother Jones investigation uncovered that Phares played a key role in establishing the Lebanese Forces' ideology and strategy during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war.
The Lebanese Forces, now a major political party in Lebanon, was an umbrella group of Christian militias during the war. Phares was allegedly responsible for enforcing ideological beliefs among the Christian militants that justified violence against their Muslim and Druze counterparts.
"[Samir Geagea] (Lebanese Forces leader) wanted to change them from a normal militia to a Christian army," Phares' ex-colleague told Mother Jones. "Walid Phares was responsible for training the lead officers in the ideology of the Lebanese Forces."
Phares "justified our fighting against the Muslims by saying we should have our own country, our own state, our own entity, and we have to be separate," said former LF member Régina Sneifer in the Mother Jones report. She also reports that he viewed the conflict with Muslims as a civilizational war between Muslims and Christians.
Additionally, Phares reportedly advocated for the formation of an independent Christian enclave.
"Reducing Islam to terrorism"
Widely viewed as an extremist who "reduces Islam to terrorism", Phares has constantly come under fire from various Muslim advocacy groups.
He has spoken and written against the Islamic Sharia and often warned against secret Muslim groups seeking to establish Sharia in the US.
According to New Republic, Phares was called in as an expert witness for congress hearings on the dangers of Sharia law. But New York Republican Representative Peter King soon withdrew his invitation based on complaints from Muslim groups.
He has also been featured in anti-Sharia activist Frank Gaffney’s popular right-wing radio show.
He seems to have helped Trump modify his Muslim ban
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Phares was asked about Trump's proposal to enforce a complete shutdown of Muslim emigration to the US. Phares would not directly endorse the ban, but justified it in a somewhat long-winded manner.
"The issue is, if you don’t have a measure for detecting who is who, and who is a jihadist and who is not, then we will keep having more bloodshed," he said.
"Mr. Trump’s reaction with this policy was genuine and symbolic for provoking that debate on a need for a foreign policy and counter-terrorism strategy shift."
He said the ban would be lifted when officials enforce a new foreign policy and counter-terrorism strategy that allows them to detect jihadists.
But in an interview with TRT World's Imran Garda a day after Trump's election, he said the ban was off the table.
He said that the December statement of the ban "belonged to a different timezone." Instead, Trump would work closely with Arab leaders to root out jihadists, and "narrow the ban."
It's important to note that Phares was not behind the statement about the Muslim ban. He joined Trump's campaign team three months after the now President-elect made that infamous announcement.
Phares told The Daily Caller, "Because of the dual challenges of ISIS and a legitimized Iran that still has nuclear ambitions, Donald Trump can and will shake up the foreign policy establishment."
"Hillary Clinton is part of the establishment and she has failed by giving poor advice to President Obama and partnered the State Department with radical groups, so there is no reason to promote her to commander-in-chief."