I wrote the following last night, but decided to wait until today to see if any of the forums came back up. Good thing I waited: Ekhlaas is back, but not stable–the server is being very fickle. I was on long enough to read the collective textual sigh of relief from the forum members, who thanked the members of Firdaws and Hesbah for hosting some of their number while their forum was down. I think my concluding thoughts from yesterday still stand and it would be interesting to figure out who the insiders were who were so sure that Ekhlaas was coming back.
One more thing: there were no explanations of why the site went down.
Gregory noted in the comments a few days ago that Ekhlaas has gone down. Members of Firdaws, another major Jihadi discussion board, have been speculating on the causes of its absence. One poster notes that it is part of a trend: Boraq, another prominent forum, is also off line, and so is Tawhed.ws, the principal Jihadi online library. (Although Tawhed appears down to people with U.S. ISP addresses, it is still functioning and can be accessed by other means. Nevertheless, it is truly down this time). The simultaneous inaccessibility of the three websites has members alleging that the U.S. and its allies have found a way to take them down.
Yet those in the know say otherwise: Wamid Qalam (وميض قلم, “Twinkle Pen”), a poster on Hesbah, assures everyone that Ekhlaas will be back; it is only down for technical reasons. Majmu`at Irhabi (مجموعة إرهابي), a Firdaws member, claims that it will be back in a matter of hours. Muhibb al-Maqdisi (محب المقدسي), another Firdaws member, posts a current image of its front page to prove it is still around.
I’ve heard a number of experts say in the past that it would be impossible to take down the Jihadi sites because they would just pop up again somewhere else. I have no idea if the problems with Ekhlaas, Boraq, and Tawhed are the result of a take down or just a strange coincidence, but at the very least it shows how easy it would be to put the squeeze on the forums. There are very few that have a high level of regular traffic, so if you take down these few, it takes awhile to figure out where to go to reconnect with other Jihadis.