The Malaysian government has quietly released seven former members of the banned terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, including one accused of helping the September 11 hijackers, saying they have been rehabilitated and would help to fight Islamic extremism in the region. The militants were released in batches from November 5 to last Thursday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said, adding the seven were among 31 security detainees released in that period. The most prominent among them is Yazid Sufaat, 44, a US trained bio-chemist, who allegedly let several senior al-Qaeda operatives, including two eventual September 11 hijackers, use an apartment he owned for meetings in Malaysia in January 2000. The 9/11 Commission Report said Yazid had visited Afghanistan and met al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. 'All the JI and others regret their past and have been rehabilitated. They no longer pose a threat to society,' Mr Hamid said. 'They would also help authorities to fight extremism in the region.' 'We also released him [Yazid] because he has shown remorse, repentance and undergone seven years of rehabilitation,' he said, referring to a compulsory rehabilitation that all detainees under Malaysia's Internal Security Act must undergo. 'We are confident enough to release him and others,' he said adding a high-level advisory panel had also recommended the release. National Police chief Musa Hassan yesterday said Yazid and others would be closely monitored and must report to police regularly. They are not allowed to leave their home district without police permission. Their release is consistent with established government policy to arrest suspects, hold them without trial, rehabilitate and later use them to persuade colleagues to give up. A classic example is the 2004 rehabilitation of top JI militant Nasir Abbas who, Malaysian and Indonesian authorities say, played a key role to persuade JI members to surrender. Nasir, a Malaysian, also travelled widely in the region including to Australia, and gave talks and interviews on JI and its aims. A Home Ministry official said foreign governments were 'well aware of our policies' to rehabilitate and return former militants to society. 'They understand that we have our own methods to defeat extremism including how we succeeded in defeating the communist insurgents,' the official said. Political analysts also speculate that the departure of US President George W. Bush and the incoming 'more benign leadership' of Barack Obama could have prompted the release of the former militants. 'They had long renounced their militant beliefs but politically it was not time yet to release them,' said a University of Malaya academic, who did not want to be named. 'With their release there are no longer any JI members in detention. At least in Malaysia, the JI chapter has been closed.' JI was formed in Malaysia in 1993 by Indonesian Muslim exiles fleeing persecution by then president Suharto. The only Malaysian still active is Noordin Mohamed Top, who is believed to be in Indonesia. Two of the militants Yazid hosted were later identified as Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who crashed their plane into the Pentagon in Washington. Yazid was also accused of helping Frenchman Zacarias Moussaoui, who is serving a life sentence for conspiring to kill US citizens, gain entry into the US. Calls to Yazid's home and to his wife Sejahtul Dursina, an IT company director, who was also briefly detained but released in 2002, were not answered yesterday. Two of the released militants are Indonesian and one is a Filipino Muslim. They have been deported.