Agitator behind ‘Death to America’ chants in Chicago contributes to Iran state TV, Hezbollah-linked channel

Earlier this month, Anti-War Committee Chicago organizer Shabbir Rizvi was filmed teaching a group of 80 activists in Chicago to chant ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ in Farsi. Rivzi has a troubling background when it comes to his documented support for Iran and anti-Israel views.

The Free Press first broke the story about Rizvi’s chants that occurred during a breakout session of an event in which 300 activists countrywide gathered to plan protests to disrupt the Democratic National Convention in August. The crowd reportedly burst into applause hours later when another activist shared the news that the Islamic Republic of Iran had attacked Israel, launching more than 300 bomb-bearing Shahed drones and ballistic missiles into its airspace.

In the video shown by the Free Press, Rivzi said that ‘marg barg’ could either mean ‘death to, or down with,’ while previously stating to laughter ‘depending on who’s asking.’

Before videos of Rizvi’s ‘Death to America’ chant made their way around the internet, the self-professed anti-war activist was a regular contributor to Iran’s Press TV and an outlet called Al Mayadeen. David Daoud, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, spoke to Fox News Digital about these outlets’ links to Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

‘Press TV is a known Iranian mouthpiece,’ Daoud said, noting that its U.S. website was seized in June 2021 alongside 32 other sites by the U.S. Justice Department. He said it ‘targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.’ 

Rizvi propelled this anti-Israel, anti-U.S. ideology while writing for Al Mayadeen on Jan. 19, explaining that Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 incursion into Israel, had ‘called the Axis of Resistance into action.’ Rizvi specifically cites Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as groups that ‘harmonized in action while maintaining their own sovereignty to assist their Palestinian allies.’ The IRGC is also a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

Rizvi’s Press TV reports also show an alleged pro-terror bias. In a Dec. 9 Press TV article, Rizvi writes not of terror attacks on innocents on Oct. 7 but of ‘the severity of the humiliation the Zionist regime was dealt on October 7 by the Palestinian resistance led by Hamas.’

Ties between Al Mayadeen and Hezbollah are ‘a little bit more complicated,’ Daoud said. While the Lebanon-based outlet calls itself ‘an independent Arab satellite news channel,’ Daoud said it is ‘at times it’s virtually indistinguishable from Al-Manar,’ a Lebanese outlet owned by Hezbollah. ‘In both content and in terms of access to Hezbollah officials,’ Daoud said he ‘considers Al Mayadeen a Hezbollah-linked media outlet,’ though the site’s funding sources ‘have always been shrouded in a little bit of mystery.’

Daoud said both channels ‘take the ‘Resistance Axis’ ideology’ and ‘spread it as far and wide in the Arab world as possible.’ 

Though Rizvi may portray these actors as part of a ‘resistance,’ Daoud says these groups merely use the term ‘to gain legitimacy’ while seeking the annihilation of the state of Israel. ‘Their objectives are not defensive,’ Daoud said. ‘The elimination and destruction of a country is not a defensive action. The idea of resisting Israel’s very right to exist is not resistance. This is propaganda’ designed to ‘make the objectives more palatable,’ Daoud said.

When discussing Iran’s April 13 strike on Israel for Press TV, Rizvi said the ‘Iranian retaliation is within the scope of international law’ and that Iran’s response ‘is proportional and just and comes after much patience in dealing with the rogue regime [Israel].’ He continued, ‘The morale of the Islamic world is being restored as Iran acts as the harbinger of regional stability.’

On the contrary, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner notes that both Israel’s April 1 attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and Iran’s April 13 aerial attack on Israel ‘may … constitute the international crime of aggression.’

After videos of his anti-American chants spread, Rizvi appears to have scrubbed his social media presence on the internet. The Powerless Podcast set an episode with Rizvi to private on April 16. In the episode, discussing so-called Western and Israeli propaganda, Rizvi suggested that ‘no politician, no business person, no corporation should be allowed to enjoy any peace until there’s justice.’

Rizvi’s ‘abolishnato’ handle on X, formerly known as Twitter, no longer exists. The internet and several concerned groups, however, have a long memory of the hate he espoused there.

On April 14, the Anti-Defamation League shared a tweet in which Rizvi wrote, ‘God bless Iran and the heroes of the IRGC,’ in response to a tweet from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Canary Mission, which highlights U.S. entities and individuals spreading anti-Israel or antisemitic hate, shared several of Rizvi’s archived tweets and press appearances with Fox News Digital. They demonstrate what they claim is Rizvi’s anger toward Israel and its supporters.

On Oct. 25, Rizvi said on Press TV that Israel is ‘actively flaunting’ plans to create ‘a greater Israel’ that ‘extends into Egypt, extents into Syria, extends into Saudi Arabia.’ He further said that if Israel were to ‘execute these grand plans of maybe even invading Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan … it would have the full political and military backing of the United States.’ He noted that Israel ‘is actively admitting that they have plans to kill’ those they conquer.

Daoud says the idea that Israel seeks to expand its territory to create a ‘greater Israel’ is ‘a conspiracy theory usually espoused by the most feverish of antisemitic minds.’ Furthermore, Daoud explained that Rizvi’s belief that ‘Israel wants to conquer most of the Middle East and slaughter its inhabitants goes a step further, showing that his worldview is based in the demonization and dehumanization of Israelis.’

On Nov. 1, Rizvi addressed Press TV once more, stating that ‘the Zionist lobby has a huge influence on the American political system and spends millions and millions of dollars, sometimes per congressional representative, to make sure that everybody follows suit with what the Zionist political line is.’ Rizvi also said in the interview that he did not believe you could ‘call [the conflict between Hamas and Israel] a war when one side is annihilating an entire people.’

In a series of archived Tweets that Canary Mission uncovered, Rizvi’s fervor against Israel is further revealed. On Nov. 15, 2023, Rizvi decried The Guardian newspaper’s decision to remove Usama Bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America,’ explaining that bin Laden had ‘correctly blamed America for its role in ethnic cleansing of Palestine by arming Israel.’

On Jan. 6, 2024, Rizvi wrote, ‘Love waking up to news that Hezbollah put these Zionists in a blender.’ A month later, on Feb. 11, he tweeted that the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism’s Super Bowl ad, which he wrongly attributes to the state of Israel, was proof that ‘from sports to Hollywood, the entire entertainment industry is complicit in genocide.’

Though Rizvi and numerous protesters from Saturday’s activist gathering allege that Israel is committing genocide, the International Court of Justice ruled on Jan. 26 that there has not been a genocide in Gaza.

Fox News Digital attempted to contact Rizvi for comment about his online statements and writings and for context behind his chanting on Saturday. Rizvi did not respond.

Saturday’sassembly in Chicago was the start of a greater initiative to protest against Israel at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson rejected protesters’ initial request to march in the vicinity of the convention. Fight Back News reported that a coalition of protesters sued the city to march in a location where President Biden ‘can hear us and see us.’ Calling the president ‘Genocide Joe Biden,’ the spokesperson for the Coalition to March on the DNC told Fight Back News that ‘Biden could stop the war with one phone call. He refuses to take action, and so we must protest.’

According to Axios, the city must respond to protesters’ request for a permit to protest closer to the convention by April 21. One protester told Axios that the group will be ‘marching with or without a permit’ because of the ‘genocide happening in Gaza.’

While anti-Israel fervor rises in Chicago, where the mayor cast the deciding vote on a controversial cease-fire resolution in January, the Jewish population in Illinois has faced increased hate. On April 16, the ADL released its findings that antisemitic incidents in Illinois rose 74% between 2022 and 2023. Of the 211 recorded incidents of vandalism, harassment and assault, 68% occurred after Oct. 7.

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