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Ai was evidently reoccupied at a later date (Nehemiah 7:32). Joshua had intended to destroy it so totally that it would never be rebuilt, and it was still desolate at the time the book of Joshua was written. The Hebrew word for "forever" (olam) basically means a very long time, with no foreseeable end.
KJV Defenders Study Bible, by Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
DEF 10 ISBN 0-529-10444-x
DEF 10-1 ISBN 0-529-10445-8