"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 on the Indian subcontinent.
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 counterterrorism 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.
After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, co-operation between the US and India on counter-terrorism issues has increased significantly. This is expected to be one of the key topics of discussion between the two countries when Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Washington later this month to meet President Barack Obama.
"We have seriously degraded al-Qaeda in the region, and will continue our efforts against the group and affiliates that pose a threat to the American people," Hayden said. The creation of the group called "Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent" was announced by As Sahab, al-Qaeda's official media outlet, in a lengthy video posted on social media sites including YouTube.
Al-Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the group's leader Ayman al Zawahiri said 'Qaedat al-Jihad' would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.