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Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. Terrorism can be used by non-state and state actors. Officially the only act of terrorism carried out in New Zealand to date was perpetrated by the French Government. The defence force had no role in responding to that event, which was left to Police. The allegation of a home grown terror cell in the Urewera's was also managed by Police, although no terror charges were proven and the counter accusation that it was the Police which were employing state sponsored terrorism was widely circulated.

International "terror" groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS are largely focused on military action to take control of certain territories (Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria-Iraq).  Terror is a misnomer as this is more in the nature of a civil war than "terror" and this is where the majority of global "terror" casualties and damage occurs. Governments typically use the term "terrorist" to delegitimise their opponents even when their own processes are often far from legitimate.

Only rarely do "terror" attacks (such as 9/11) spill over into other nations. Typically the response by the attacked nation is economically and militarily unjustified compared to the actual damage done and the attack is well within the competence of local law enforcement. Because terrorists hide inside the civilian environment good intelligence and police work is a better defence against spill-over "terrorist" attacks than any amount of military spending. Tanks and jets don't stop covert terrorist attacks.

The object of a spill over terror attack is raise awareness, demonstrate capability and challenge the host government. The terrorist hopes to provoke a political response which imposes costs out of all proportion to the damage actually caused by the initial attack. The US "war on terror" has cost taxpayers US$1.7 trillion in emergency funding and another (estimated) 3.3 trillion in other costs plus another 8,000 lives. The initial attacks killed 2,981 lives and cost Al Qaeda half a million dollars. To this end Al Qaeda was successful in 2001 although it's success did lead to its eventual destruction.