Ruthless Ratko Mladic Nicknamed Himself 'God'
Former Bosnian Serb general wanted his troops to treat him that way, too
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2011 4:47 PM CDT
Updated May 26, 2011 5:27 PM CDT
1995: Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic speaks to a young Muslim boy after patting him on the head as he assures residents of Srebrenica they would be safe.   (AP Photo/APTN)
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(Newser) – Gen. Ratko Mladic's ruthlessness was legendary: "Burn their brains!" he once bellowed as his men pounded Sarajevo with artillery fire. So was his arrogance: He nicknamed himself "God" and ordered his troops to obey his commands as if they came from on high. The former Bosnian Serb general now in custody on war crimes charges also is known for personally leading his troops in the 1995 Serb onslaught against the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica, where thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed.

Just hours before the massacre, Mladic handed out candy to Muslim children rounded up at the town's square and assured them that all would be fine. He even patted one child on the head, a sinister image imprinted in the minds of Srebrenica survivors. Obsessed with his nation's history, Mladic saw Bosnia's war—which killed more than 100,000 people and displaced another 1.8 million—as a chance for revenge against 500 years of Turkish-Ottoman occupation of Serbia. He viewed Bosnian Muslims as Turks and called them that as an insult. Convinced of the power of his army, he was known for telling his soldiers: "When I give you guarantees, it's as if they are given by God." Click for more on his bio, along with photos.