One of the country's most infamous warlords, Dostum serves as the political and military leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek minority. Following an incident in early 2008 in which Dostum allegedly threatened and beat a political rival at gunpoint, he was stripped of his title as chief of staff of the Afghan Army and went into a brief, self-imposed exile in Turkey. But the general returned just before the election to deliver the Uzbek vote to Karzai, winning back his post in the process. Dostum is responsible for one of the most significant mass killings in Afghanistan post-American invasion. Thousands of Taliban militants, who surrendered to his forces, part of the American allied Northern Forces in 2001, were packed into closed metal shipping containers, where many -- a State Department report mentions 1,500 -- suffocated while being transported to prison. Despite rumors of a mass grave, U.S. officials discouraged an investigation of the case. Above, Karzai and Dostum during a ceremony at Rosa Sharif Azrat Ali shrine March 21, 2002.