The online Jihadi community continues to roil after some of its most prominent forums were shut down (still no word on who did it). The most important of them, Ekhlaas, has totally evaporated and pleas for new links go unanswered.
The closure of the forums has understandably bred paranoia among the membership, who are filling less-trafficked forums to await news of Ekhlaas’ reopening. Members of one of these forums, Faloja, were overjoyed several days ago when someone posted an Ekhlaas link that worked. But problems with the sign-in page led to speculation that the new site is a trap. Wiser members are counseling others to wait until links are posted on Hesbah, the most exclusive of the JIhadi sites.
Some Jihadis see the site closures as an opportunity to recruit members for their own forums. One, Khalid al-`Asqalani (also of Faloja), has repeatedly interrupted discussions of Ekhlaas’ demise to post advertisements for the Bayt Muqaddis forum.
Regardless of what one thinks of the feasibility or value of closing forums, it is instructive to watch what happens when they go down. So far we’ve learned:
- Al-Qaeda media can be disrupted
- Major forums can be shut down and kept down
- Forum closures breed paranoia and diminish morale
- Second-tier forums are the major beneficiaries when first-tier forums disappear
Document (Arabic): 9-13-08-faloja-member-offers-another-forum-to-replace-ekhlaas
Document (Arabic): 9-19-08-faloja-new-ekhlaas-address-is-a-trap