The Antichrist will be a willful, even maniacally manipulative, ruthless, nominal Muslim, probably from Turkey. It is possible that he will originate in the Balkans, or Syria, or Lebanon, or Iraq, but my money's on the Turkish Republic. His first move to power will likely occur in his country of origin, and may put into question his legitimacy to rule. What separates him from other contenders (or pretenders) is his bold grab of two other nations, one Syria, the other either Iraq or Lebanon.
He will be ceded imperial power by an alliance of ten nations, which include the ones he personally reigns over plus seven more (Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and three of Greece, Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria). Some of the ten are identified quite clearly in scripture, some are the fruit of my conjecture; regardless, all are roughly bounded by that area that was ruled by both Alexander and the Romans in the Levant, the Balkans and Africa. Specifically, we are told this empire represents a resurrection of a empire that was dead in the Apostle John's day, but would revive in the end times. That rules out Rome (western Europe) out of hand (so much for Common Market interpretations!), but tracks well with an Alexandrian/Seleucid interpretation.
At some point, I think after the ten nations have ceded imperial power to the beast, he will sign a 7 year pact with Israel. It seems to me, the treaty will give Israel control over the Temple mount and the right to rebuild said structure. Whether or not this is the reason that the King of the South (Egypt) rebels, I am not sure, but Egypt most certainly does rebel. The Antichrist reacts so forcefully and utterly to this challenge that the rest of the world loses all desire to withstand him. 3 1/2 years into the treaty period, perhaps just prior to the Temple's dedication, the beast declares himself god above all that is called God, and requires everyone in the world to acknowledge his divinity by taking a mark on the right hand or forehead.
This mark will not be coercive, despite the fact that no one can buy, sell or trade without it. The combination of the Antichrist's forceful will, the deceptive signs and wonders done at his bidding, and a strong delusional influence sent by God upon the Gentiles of that day will result in a ready capitulation by the masses. They will gladly take the mark, and it will seem the good and right thing to do, they would feel indignation toward any who would not. The mark, however, spells their doom.
Not so with the Jews. Under the ministry of Enoch and Elijah, and the 144,000 in the first 3 1/2 years of the pact, the Jews will embrace Christ en masse and resist the mark. Many of them will be imprisoned and end up beheaded for doing so, but Christ will raise them up when he returns. Near the end of the 7 year compact, the armies of the nations will be mustered together in northern Israel to do battle against the expected invasion of Christ and his army of saints. My guess is that this will be spun as an alien invasion, but that is sheer speculation on my part.
Christ will come bursting through the skies, with his saints in tow (that's us, yeehaw!) and usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. The Antichrist and his chief lieutenant, the False Prophet, will immediately be thrown into the Lake of Fire, the Devil will be chained in darkness for 1000 years. To all of which I say, Maranatha!
Index to the Entire Series
I, II, III, IV, V