A high school Spanish teacher has resigned because of an extra-credit assignment he gave that included anti-American phrases and defended the Palestinian group Hamas.

Khalid Chahhou resigned from Smithfield-Selma High School last week after students alerted school officials about a word-search puzzle he assigned that contained phrases including "destroy America" and "terrorist."

"I think some of the people in the class were kind of afraid, because how the world is today, you never know with people," said Chris McDaniels, a sophomore at the school in Johnston County southeast of Raleigh.

Chahhou acknowledged that he gave students the assignment, but he declined to comment further, telling The News and Observer of Raleigh: "I don't want to talk about this dark page in my life any more."

He did not immediately respond to a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

Shakil Ahmed, president of the Islamic Association of Cary, a Raleigh suburb, said Chahhou told him he made the puzzle after seeing news reports of Israeli troops killing Palestinians.

"He must have gone through an outburst of emotions at that time," Ahmed said. "He's the most softest-spoken, most gentle, kindest person I've come across."