WASHINGTON : The United States has downplayed the reported creation of a new Al Qaeda wing in Indian subcontinent, saying while it could not verify that, the move doesn’t indicate any  new capabilities by the militant group. “We haven’t been able to verify that yet. Obviously, we’re looking to see if there’s more information we can get about this here,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at the daily press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

“We also don’t regard this announcement as an indication of any new capabilities by al-Qaeda,” she said, insisting that the core of Al Qaeda leadership had been “decimated”. At the same time, she reiterated that the US remains committed to dismantling al-Qaeda anywhere that it poses a threat to the US and make sure that it doesn’t renew its threat to America.

But “we obviously are concerned about any recruitment or efforts by terrorists or violent extremist groups anywhere in the world.”

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of a South Asian branch of his outfit to “raise the flag of jihad”  in a 55-minute video posted online Wednesday. “When we talk about core Al Qaeda, it’s Al Qaeda senior leadership in the tribal areas primarily of Pakistan, also some in Afghanistan, and that core leadership has been decimated. That’s a fact,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve constantly at the same time said we’re concerned if they try to undertake operations in other places, if they as we know have affiliated groups other places.” “So we’re concerned about it,” she said. “Again, we don’t regard this announcement as an indication of any new capabilities by Al Qaeda.”

Asked how she could say that the core of Al Qaeda leadership had been decimated when al-Zawahiri, was seen making the announcement of a new wing. “If you look at a series of successions of number threes in Al Qaeda, a host of other senior leaders in Al Qaeda, yes. The core of Al Qaeda’s leadership except for Zawahiri, of the senior leadership in Al Qaeda in Pakistan, has been taken off the battlefield,” Harf responded.

“And as they are replaced with new fighters, they are significantly less capable, are significantly less trained, they have much less capability,” she said. Further pressed on the issue, Harf just said, “We don’t have anything to indicate there are new capabilities here.” “We know there’s been an announcement, a propaganda announcement made on a video. That doesn’t mean there’s new capabilities to back it up,” she said.

Asked if the intelligence community had not discerned any significant Al Qaeda presence on the Indian subcontinent, Harf said: “Well, no. We have known that there’s an Al Qaeda presence in many places of the region, many parts of the region.” “Of course we know that. That’s not anything new,” she said. But in terms of an announcement about some sort of new branch, we judge - the US Government judges that this is not an indication of new capabilities.”

“We have nothing to indicate that there are new capabilities here.” The White House made the same point. We do not regard the announcement as an indication of new capabilities by al-Qaeda, which has long been active throughout the region,” Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House, said.”We have seen the reports of al-Qaeda’s new branch. The US remains committed to dismantling al-Qaeda and ensuring that it never again poses a threat to the American people,” she said in response to a question. The US, she said, has robust counter-terrorism partnerships in the region to combat al-Qaeda’s destabilising influence, to deny it safe haven, to counter violent extremism, and to build resilience against terrorist groups.